Quake in Philippines injures 25, damages homes, churches

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — A moderately strong earthquake struck in the southern Philippines as people slept before dawn Saturday, injuring at least 25 villagers and damaging several houses, two churches, a public market and a fire station, officials said.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said the magnitude 5.5 quake struck about 7 kilometers (4 miles) southeast of Carrascal town in Surigao del Sur province and was felt in outlying provinces. Aftershocks have been detected.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said a Catholic church’s ceiling crumbled in Surigao del Sur’s Carmen town and another church in Lanuza town sustained “major damage,” while several houses reported cracks and damage.

A public market was damaged in Carmen and a small fire station collapsed in Madrid town, damaging a firetruck and a police car. A small Surigao hospital also was damaged, officials said.

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Disaster-response teams have been deployed to help affected residents and assess possible damage in interior towns.

One of the world’s most disaster-prone countries, the Philippines has frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions because it lies on the so-called Pacific “Ring of Fire,” a seismically active arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin. A magnitude 7.7 quake killed nearly 2,000 people in the northern Philippines in 1990.

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