6.5-M earthquake hits Philippines, killing at least 3, injuring 80, officials say

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A 6.5-magnitude earthquake struck in the Philippines, causing multiple deaths and injuring many, according to officials.

A powerful nighttime earthquake in the southern Philippines killed at least three people, injured about 80 others, damaged buildings and an airport and knocked out power, officials said Saturday.

The late Friday quake with a magnitude of 6.5 roused residents from sleep in Surigao del Norte province, sending hundreds to flee their homes. The quake was centered about 8 miles northwest of the provincial capital of Surigao at a relatively shallow depth of 6.8 miles, said Renato Solidum of the Philippine Institute of Seismology and Volcanology.

He said the quake was set off by movement in the Philippine fault, which sits in the Pacific "Ring of Fire" where quakes and volcanoes are common.

At least three people died after being hit by falling debris and blunt objects, Office of Civil Defense director Antonio Gonzales told The Associated Press by telephone. At least 80 others were injured in Surigao city, about 430 miles southeast of Manila, including 14 who were confined in a hospital.

"We're still doing a rapid needs and damage assessment," he said.

Several mostly low-slung buildings and schools sustained cracks in the coastal city and a bridge collapsed in an outlying town. Rescue teams were checking for possible casualties in a village called Poknoy in the city of 140,500 people, he said.

The city's airport was temporarily closed due to cracks in the runway, aviation officials said. A major port in Lipata district also was closed while engineers checked the stability of an access road, Gonzales said.

"The shaking was so strong I could hardly stand," coast guard personnel Rayner Neil Elopre said.

Village leaders asked residents to move to a school building on higher ground, Elopre said, pausing briefly during a mild aftershock while talking on the phone.

Police officer Jimmy Sarael said he, his wife and two children embraced each other until the shaking eased. They later moved to the moonlit grounds outside the provincial capitol complex to join more than 1,000 jittery residents, he said.
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