Structures damaged in UNESCO World Heritage Site of Vigan, Ilocos Sur after the magnitude 7.2 earthquake earlier this morning. Photo from Arlene Alegre Gajeton.


A strong earthquake left two people dead and injured dozens in the northern part of Philippines today. The Head of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology Renato Solidum said, the 7-magnitude quake was centered in the hard-hit province of Abra in a mountainous area. Local media reports that the temblor set off small landslides and damaged buildings and churches and prompted terrified crowds and hospital patients in the capital to rush outdoors.

Government officials told media, a villager died when he was hit by falling cement slabs in his house in Abra, where at least 25 others were injured and were mostly confined in hospitals. A construction worker was hit by debris and died in the strawberry-growing mountain town of La Trinidad in Benguet province, where some roads were shut by landslides and boulders. Five people were injured when rocks and debris pummeled their SUV and a truck on a hillside road in Mountain Province near Benguet, officials said. Many houses and buildings had cracked walls, including some that collapsed in Abra.

The U.S. Geological Survey measured the quake’s strength at 7.0 on Richter scale and depth at 10 kilometres. Shallower quakes tend to cause more damage.

The Philippines lies along the Pacific ‘Ring of Fire’, an arc of faults around the Pacific Ocean where most of the world’s earthquakes occur. A 7.7 magnitude quake killed nearly 2,000 people in the northern Philippines in 1990.