Tsunami alert lifted after 6.9 undersea quake near Philippines

No casualties or damage were reported hours after the quake struck before noon

epa07252331 Renato Solidum, Director of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), points to an electronic screen with data on a recorded earthquake, at Phivolcs offices in Quezon City, east of Manila, Philippines, 29 December 2018. A magnitude 7.2 earthquake occurred at sea off the coast of Davao Oriental region in the southern Philippines at midday on 29 December, according to Phivolcs. A tsunami advisory was issued and the public was advised to stay away from the beaches and coastal areas in southern Philippine provinces fronting the Philippine Sea. The advisory was later lifted by 3:00 PM, local Philippine time.  EPA/ROLEX DELA PENA
Powered by automated translation

A powerful undersea earthquake struck off the southern Philippines on Saturday, prompting people to scramble out of shopping malls and buildings and authorities to warn villagers to stay away from beaches in case of a tsunami.

No casualties or damage were reported hours after the quake struck before noon. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center lifted its warning for a potential tsunami that it had said could hit coastal areas of the southern Philippines and Indonesia.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said the quake was detected at a depth of 59 kilometres and a magnitude of 7.2 about 162 kilometres off Davao Oriental province. Several aftershocks, including one with a magnitude of 5.6, were later felt by residents but no major damage was reported, officials said.

The US Geological Survey said the quake had a magnitude of 6.9.

Shortly after the quake struck, Renato Solidum, who heads the quake-monitoring institute, said a major tsunami was unlikely given the quake's depth but his agency advised villagers to avoid beaches in Davao Oriental province and outlying coastal regions for about two hours after the quake hit as a precaution.

The quake was felt in several southern provinces and cities, including in President Rodrigo Duterte's hometown in Davao city and in nearby Tagum City. Shoppers, including children yelling in fear, rushed out of a five-story mall and many occupants abandoned a 26-floor condominium in a commercial district as the ground shook.

Indonesia's Meteorology and Geophysics Agency said the quake didn't have the potential to cause a tsunami affecting that country, which is still reeling after a December 22 tsunami caused by an eruption on a volcanic island killed more than 400 people.

The Philippines and Indonesia lie along the so-called Ring of Fire, a seismically active arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin.


Read more:

Indonesia rescuers scramble to reach isolated tsunami-struck towns

Illusive tsunamis: The difficulty tracking mega waves