MANILA - Small waves have started to hit the southern Philippines after a major earthquake struck off the sprawling archipelago on Friday, the seismology agency said, and warned that further bigger waves could arrive soon.

Renato Solidum, head of the agency, said waves of about 16 cm (6 inches) had hit the Surigao area on the southern island of Mindanao, but warned that second and third waves could be much higher.

Solidum told local radio that residents should get to a 10-meter elevation until the tsunami alert is lifted.

The epicenter of the 7.6 magnitude quake was 91 miles (146 km) off the town of Guiuan in Samar province.

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