Two strong earthquakes hours apart struck a group of sparsely populated islands in the Luzon Strait in the northern Philippines early on Saturday, killing at least eight people, injuring about 60 and causing substantial damage.
The quakes, which were followed later in the day by a third tremblor, collapsed houses built of stone and wood, arousing residents from sleep, said Roldan Esdicul, who heads the Batanes provincial disaster response office.
"Our bed and everything were swaying from side to side like a hammock," Mr Esdicul told AP from Basco town, the provincial capital.
"We all ran out to safety."
More than 1,000 residents of hard-hit Itbayat island — nearly half of the island's population of mostly fishermen — were advised not to return to their homes and stay in the town plaza as successive aftershocks shook the region, he said.
"The wounded are still being brought in," Itbayat Mayor Raul de Sagon told a local radio station.
He said more doctors may be needed if the number of injured from interior villages rises. The Philippine seismology agency said the quakes were magnitude-5.4 and 5.9 respectively.
We woke up to the news of the twin-earthquakes (magnitudes 5.4 and 6.4) in Itbayat, Batanes. Our team at Operations Center is working double time to assess the situation in affected areas. Report any untoward incidents to PRC via hotline 143.
Mr Esdicul said he was already in his office with the provincial governor when the second and more powerful quake struck about three hours after the first shock.
"We have to hold on because you can't stand or walk. It was that strong," he said.
The initial quake severely cracked the bell tower of the island's old limestone church, the 19th-century Santa Maria de Mayan, a popular tourist attraction.
The tower collapsed when the second temblor hit the island, he said.
"We saw houses shaking. Some of the walls of the houses collapsed and fell on the victims," police Sergeant Uzi Villa told AFP.
"Some people died because they were sleeping soundly since it was still early."
A resident looks at damaged houses in Itbayat town in northern Philippines following the earthquakes.
An Itbayat hospital was damaged but remained open. An Air Force helicopter and a plane were en route to Batanes to help ferry and provide aid to victims.
"It's traumatic … we're still feel strong aftershocks," Edna Gato, a school teacher in Itbayat town, told Reuters.
The national disaster agency said it was sending medical and rescue teams to the islands, about halfway between the main Philippine island of Luzon and Taiwan.
The military was also deploying an aircraft to send supplies and bring out injured, he said.
The Philippines is on the geologically active Pacific Ring of Fire and experiences frequent earthquakes.
سایت تابناک از انتشار نظرات حاوی توهین و افترا و نوشته شده با حروف لاتین (فینگیلیش) معذور است.