A strong earthquake rocked large parts of the Philippine capital and north of it yesterday, killing at least eight, emptying buildings of tens of thousands who had just returned from the long holy week holiday and shutting down rail lines and a key airport.
The US Geological Survey said the 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck 60km north-west of Manila at a depth of 40km.
Eight people were killed when two buildings and some houses collapsed in two towns in Pampanga province.
Provincial governor Lilia Pineda told ABS-CBN News three bodies were pulled out of a four-storey building that housed a supermarket in Porac, while an old woman and her grandchild died after they were pinned by a wall in Lubao. Three others whose homes collapsed died in hospitals, she added.
Dozens were rescued from the building in Porac but at least 30 more were still trapped inside. GMA News reported that two of those who died were children.
"It sounded like a sonic boom," said Mayor Jose Angelo Dominguez of Castillejos, in Zambales province - the epicentre of the quake.
Pampanga, 90km north of Man-ila, seems to have borne the brunt of the earthquake. An airport inside the Clark special economic zone, which straddles parts of Pampanga, was closed for at least 24 hours.
Photos posted on Twitter showed wall linings and ceilings torn out of at least one building.
Airport officials said they would be inspecting the terminal and runways for damages. Clark airport handles some 8,000 passengers a day and over 600 flights a week, including those going to Singapore.
Budget carrier Cebu Pacific said it was suspending all flights, two Singapore-bound, from Clark today.
Images and videos posted on social media showed people fleeing office and residential buildings, and shopping malls across Metro Manila, a sprawling metropolis of 16 cities and home to over 12 million.
One video showed a skyscraper with mirror claddings swaying, as water cascaded down its sides, at Bonifacio Global City, a financial and commercial hub an hour's drive east of Manila. Another tall building in Manila housing a technical school was seen leaning against an adjacent building.
The Transportation Ministry halted operations at all railway lines in the capital, leaving many commuters stranded. It ordered an inspection of runways at Manila's main airport and warned travellers to expect flight delays.
Power interruptions were reported in at least eight provinces.
The Philippines is part of the Pacific "Ring of Fire", an arc of intense seismic activity that stretches from quake-prone Japan through Southeast Asia and across the Pacific basin.