A powerful earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.6 struck Saturday night off the coast of the southern Philippine island of Mindanao and Philippine authorities issued a tsunami warning.
The quake struck at 10:37 p.m. at a depth of 20 miles, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said that based on the magnitude and location, it expected tsunami waves to hit the southern Philippines and parts of Indonesia, Palau and Malaysia.
Teresito Bacolcol, the head of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, told The Associated Press his agency advised residents along the coast of southern Surigao del Sur and Davao Oriental provinces to evacuate immediately to higher ground or move further inland.
Owners of boats in harbors, estuaries or shallow coastal waters off the two provinces should secure their boats and move away from the waterfront, the quake agency said in its tsunami warning. Boats already at sea should stay offshore in deep waters until further advised, it said.
Based on the quake's magnitude, Bacolcol said a 3.2-foot tsunami may hit but the wave could be higher in enclosed coves, bays and straits.
The Philippines, one of the world's most disaster-prone countries, experiences regular earthquakes and volcanic eruptions due to its location on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” an arc of seismic faults around the ocean. The archipelago is also lashed by about 20 typhoons and storms each year.
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