Philippines earthquake hits Bohol and Cebu killing at least 20 people
A 7.2-magnitude earthquake has hit the central Philippines, killing at least 20 people, reports say.
The US Geological Survey said the quake struck underneath the island of Bohol, in a region popular with tourists.
People were killed as buildings and markets collapsed in Bohol and nearby Cebu province. Several buildings and churches were damaged by the quake.
The quake struck at 08:12 on a national holiday in Philippines.
Officials say that most of those killed were in Cebu, considered the second major city in the country.
At least five people died when part of a fishing port collapsed, reports the Associated Press (AP) news agency. Two more people died and others were injured when a roof at a market fell, AP adds.
Neil Sanchez, head of the Cebu disaster management office, told broadcaster ABS-CBN that they were trying to confirm reports that a school had collapsed.
“Communication lines are quite difficult here,” he said.
“Even the disaster risk reduction management office has been damaged. We had to move elsewhere.”
The tremor triggered power outages in parts of Bohol, Cebu and neighboring areas, reports cited Philippines’ disaster management agency as saying.
Edgardo Chatto, the governor of Bohol, said that a church and a city hall building were damaged.
At least four people have been reported killed in Bohol and one on neighboring Siquijor island, reports say.
British man David Venables, who has lived in Cebu for seven years, said it was the strongest quake he had experienced.
“It’s a very strange and frightening experience when the very foundations of the house and surrounding area shake uncontrollably,” he said.
There were reports of aftershocks following the quake.
Cebu province, with a population of more than 2.6 million, is about an hour away by plane from Manila. Neighboring Bohol, a favorite of tourists because of its sandy beaches, is a short boat ride away from Cebu.