At least one person was killed and dozens of buildings were damaged, including a coronavirus quarantine center, after a strong earthquake jolted the central Philippines on Tuesday, according to officials.
“My things at home fell down and my neighbors’ walls cracked and some collapsed,” Rodrigo Gonhuran told Reuters from the town of Cataingan, located near the epicenter.
In Cataingan, officials said a three-story house collapsed as the ground shook.
One man, a retired police officer pinned in the debris, died as rescuers were looking for other members of his family who were missing.
More than 40 people were injured by the quake in Masbate province, according to disaster response officials.
The temblor, the strongest earthquake to rattle the Philippines in eight months, damaged roads and buildings, including a sports complex being used as a coronavirus quarantine center.
Provincial administrator Rino Revalo told the DZMM radio station that engineers were still checking the damaged sports complex. Patients were moved out of a hospital into tents because of cracks in the building, according to Reuters.
The Philippines has the most coronavirus cases in Southeast Asia, with more than 164,000 confirmed infections and 2,681 deaths as of Tuesday.
Cataingan resident Isagani Libatan told the Associated Press he was on his way to his aunt’s house for breakfast when his motorcycle suddenly swerved as the ground shook.
“I thought it was my tire but people suddenly streamed out in panic from swaying houses and then we lost power,” Libatan said.
The earthquake was felt in several provinces across the central Visayas region, but no risk of a tsunami was reported.
The Philippines is located along the volatile "Ring of Fire" seismic fault system that circles the Pacific Ocean.
This area is the location of most of Earth's subduction zones, where oceanic plates slide under the lighter continental plates.
Earthquakes tend to happen when those plates scrape or subside underneath each other, and when that happens at sea it can spawn tsunamis.
A magnitude 7.7 quake killed nearly 2,000 people in the northern Philippines in 1990.
The country is also lashed by about 20 typhoons and tropical storms each year, making it one of the world’s most disaster-prone countries.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.