Quake hits off Philippines; tsunami alert cancelled

Philippines maintains warning to coastal residents who seek higher ground following 7.6 magnitude earthquake.

Seismology agency office in the Philippines 370 (R) (photo credit: Cheryl Ravelo / Reuters)
Seismology agency office in the Philippines 370 (R)
(photo credit: Cheryl Ravelo / Reuters)
MANILA - An earthquake of 7.6 magnitude struck off the Philippines on Friday damaging roads and bridges and sending people fleeing to higher ground in fear of a tsunami, a politician and authorities said.
The quake was centered off the east coast, 91 miles (146 km) off the town of Guiuan in Samar province at a depth of about 20 miles (32 km), the US Geological Survey said.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a warning for much of the region, but cancelled it about two hours later.
However, Philippine authorities maintained their tsunami warning after ordering residents to get out of coastal areas immediately.
"We are in a wait and see situation, some bridges and roads were damaged and people panicked and are now on higher ground," Samar congressman, Ben Evardone, told local radio.
There were no immediate reports of casualties, said the head of the national disaster agency, Benito Ramos.
Large parts of Samar and Leyte province had no power or internet connections.
"The only lights you see are from vehicles in the streets headed to higher ground," said a radio reporter in the town of Borongan.
The tsunami warning was initially issued for the Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, Taiwan, Papua New Guinea and other islands in the Pacific including the US state of Hawaii.
Small waves of about 16 cm (6 inches) had hit a southern Philippine island, the seismology agency said, and warned that bigger ones could follow.
Renato Solidum, head of the agency, said residents should get to a 10-metre elevation until the tsunami alert was lifted.
The region has been hit by two huge quakes in the past decade. At least 230,000 people in 13 Indian Ocean countries were killed in a quake and tsunami off Indonesia in 2004.
Last year, an earthquake and tsunami off Japan's northeastern coast killed about 20,000 people and triggered the world's worst nuclear crisis in 25 years after waves battered a nuclear power station.