MANILA • A 6.8-magnitude earthquake struck off the Philippines yesterday, officials said, damaging several buildings and injuring two people as panicked residents fled the coast, following a tsunami warning.
The United States authorities warned of potential hazardous waves in the southern region of Mindanao and Indonesia after the quake hit at 4.23am, but the tsunami alert was lifted less than two hours later.
Residents were jolted from their beds and ran onto the streets as the earthquake shook the area, leaving cracks in a hospital, two government buildings and a port, as well as triggering the collapse of at least one house and causing a brief power outage.
"The floor appeared to rise first before swaying violently from side to side. Then the lights went out," said Mr Adrian Morallas, who was at work at the civil defence office in General Santos city at the time. "I took cover under my desk, in line with our disaster training."
He said coastal communities near General Santos were told to evacuate as a precaution, though the authorities do not know how many people actually left their homes.
The quake struck at a depth of 41km off Mindanao island, the US Geological Service said.
The state-run Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology gave a magnitude reading of 7.2. The epicentre was about 53km off Mindanao's south coast, it added.
"We do not expect major damage after this event," institute head Renato Solidum said on ABS-CBN television in Manila.
Mr Morallas said two people were injured during the evacuations in the Mindanao coastal towns of Glan and Malapatan. One person was hit by a falling rock, while a pregnant woman hurt herself when she fell.