Deadly earthquake, aftershocks hit central Philippines

At least 107 dead after a magnitude-7.2 quake rocks Bohol

A strong earthquake, magnitude 7.2, struck islands popular with tourists in the Philippines on Tuesday, killing at least 107 people, some while praying in a centuries-old church, officials said.

The earthquake was centered 34 miles below the town of Carmen on the island of Bohol, about 250 miles southeast of the capital, Manila, and was felt across the region. The Philippine seismology agency reported at least 110 aftershocks.

Local radio stations reported fatalities in nearby Cebu province, across a strait from Bohol. Bohol has 1.2 million people and is popular among foreigners because of its beach and island resorts.

Philippine radio reports quoted an official from the national disaster agency as saying four people died on Bohol when buildings collapsed during the quake.

Joseph Emilio Abaya, the Philippine transportation secretary, said in a radio interview that parts of the Tagbilaran port had cracked and collapsed.

Edgardo Chatto, Bohol's governor, said that a church was reported damaged in Tagbilaran and a part of the city hall collapsed, injuring one person.

A 17th century stone church in Loboc, southwest of Carmen, crumbled, with nearly half of it reduced to rubble. Other old churches, dating from the Spanish colonial period, which are common in the central region, reported damage too.

In Cebu, meanwhile, four children died after a stampede, according to Dinky Soliman, the Philippine social welfare secretary.

At least 19 were injured when the roof of a market in Mandaue collapsed, according to television reports. At least two tall buildings collapsed, and other buildings, including a church and a former town hall, were damaged.

Photos from Cebu broadcast on TV stations showed a fallen concrete two-story building, and reports said two people were pulled out alive, including an 8-month-old. The Cebu city government office was also reportedly damaged.

Cebu, about 350 miles south of Manila, has a population of more than 2.6 million people.

Tuesday was a national holiday, and that may have reduced casualties because schools and offices were closed. 

Earthquakes are common in the Philippines, which lies along the Pacific "Ring of Fire."

Al Jazeera and wire services

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