A severe earthquake caused landslides, damaged houses, and injured dozens of people in the northern Philippines on Wednesday.
Hospital patients in the capital were evacuated, while panicked people fled inside.
According to Renato Solidum, the director of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, the mid-morning shaking was a strong earthquake with a 7-magnitude epicenter in the hilly region of Abra province.
“The ground shook like I was on a swing and the lights suddenly went out. We rushed out of the office, and I heard screams and some of my companions were in tears,” said Michael Brillantes, a safety officer of the Abra town of Lagangilang, near the epicenter.
“It was the most powerful quake I’ve felt, and I thought the ground would open up,” Brillantes told The Associated Press by cellphone.
In Abra, a villager was killed by collapsing cement slabs in his home, and at least 25 other people were hurt as well. At least four more individuals also perished, largely in fallen homes. In the strawberry-growing mountain village of La Trinidad in the province of Benguet, a worker was trapped to death when a small building that was under construction collapsed.
Abra, where President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who took office less than a month ago, planned to come on Thursday to meet victims and local officials, has many houses and structures with broken walls, including several that collapsed.
At a press conference, Marcos Jr. said that the chandeliers in his office at the riverside Malacanang presidential palace complex started swinging and making noises. He described the ground shaking as being “very strong.”
In a terrifying near-death incident, Filipino photojournalist Harley Palangchao and friends were driving in two vans downhill in Peak Province when they heard thunder-like thuds and looked ahead to see an avalanche of rocks the size of cars falling from a steep mountain.
The 44-year-old father of three placed his camera in the front seat and took what he felt may be his final photographs, amidst cries from his friends in their van to “back up, back up!” One person was hurt when a boulder touched the vehicle in front of them, but he and the others in the second van drove backward quickly enough to avoid harm.
“I was thinking there should be at least a record if something happened to us,” Palangchao told the AP. “It was a horrific experience.”
Abra’s three-story structure was shown in a Red Cross photo sagging precariously toward a road that was littered with rubble. Parts of a historic stone church tower were seen flaking off and collapsing in a cloud of dust on a hilltop in a witness’s panicked video capture.
At least two hospitals in Manila, about 300 kilometers (200 miles) south of Lagangilang, had patients and medical staff evacuated, some of whom were in wheelchairs. However, after engineers discovered only a few small holes in the walls, they were instructed to return.
After additional investigation, the earthquake’s magnitude was reduced from its initial 7.3 magnitude. The institute stated the earthquake was caused by movement in a small local fault at a depth of 17 kilometers (10 miles), and it added that it anticipated damage and several aftershocks.
The Pacific “Ring of Fire,” a ring of faults around the Pacific Ocean where the majority of earthquakes in the world take place, runs along the coast of the Philippines. In addition, it experiences roughly 20 typhoons and tropical storms year, making it one of the nations most vulnerable to natural disasters.
Nearly 2,000 people were killed in the northern Philippines in 1990 by a magnitude 7.7 earthquake.