Tsunami warning withdrawn after 6.9-magnitude quake strikes off southern Philippines

The quake struck south-east of Davao City at a depth of 59km, the US Geological Survey said.
The quake struck south-east of Davao City at a depth of 59km, the US Geological Survey said.PHOTO: USGS

MANILA (REUTERS, AFP) -  A strong earthquake of 6.9 magnitude struck off the southern Philippine island of Mindanao on Saturday (Dec 29), raising fears of dangerous tsunami waves across the region but after about two hours, the tsunami warning was withdrawn. 

There were no reports of casualties or damage from the earthquake, which the US Geological Survey (USGS) said struck 193km east of the Philippine city of General Santos, at a depth of 60km. 

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre initially said “hazardous tsunami waves” were possible within 300 km of the epicentre”, along the coasts of the Philippines, Indonesia and the Pacific island nation of Palau.  But about two hours after the quake struck, the centre said there was no longer a tsunami threat.

The Philippines’ government seismology office said cities in the south of the country felt “moderately strong” shaking. 

Residents of the southern Philippines said the earthquake lasted about a minute and some people rushed out of their homes but there had been no major damage. 

“We’ve alerted the communities for possible tsunami,”Clinton Polancos, an official in the southern district of Governor Generoso, told Reuters.  “We’re fine. The earthquake was not destructive.”

According to the USGS, there was a low likelihood of casualties and damage, although it warned recent earthquakes in the area had caused landslides. 

The Philippines and Indonesia lie on the so-called Ring of Fire, a vast Pacific Ocean region where many earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur.  The most recent major quake disaster to strike the Philippines was in 2013 when a 7.1-magnitude quake left more than 220 people dead and destroyed historic churches in the central islands. 

Indonesia has been hit by two major tsunamis this year. More than 400 people were killed last weekend after an erupting volcano triggered a deadly wave that struck the coastlines of western Java island and south Sumatra. 

A quake-tsunami in September killed around 2,200 people in Palu on Sulawesi island, with thousands more missing and presumed dead.