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Strong offshore quake kills 1 in the Philippines

By Joe Sterling, CNN
updated 9:56 PM EDT, Fri August 31, 2012
The 7.6-magnitude quake, which was about 20 miles deep, struck just before 8:50 p.m., authorities said.
The 7.6-magnitude quake, which was about 20 miles deep, struck just before 8:50 p.m., authorities said.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Damage is reported to houses and bridges
  • The quake struck on Friday night
  • At least one person has died as a result of the earthquake
  • Tsunami waves ranging from an inch to a foot and a half were reported

Manila, Philippines (CNN) -- A major earthquake offshore of the Philippines sent people scrambling toward higher ground, generated a small tsunami and killed at least one person Friday, authorities said.

The 7.6-magnitude quake struck Friday evening, with its epicenter about 65 miles southeast of the coastal town of Guiuan, in the Philippine province of Eastern Samar, the U.S. Geological Survey said. It was about 20 miles deep.

Tsunami waves ranging from 6 to 7 inches to a foot and a half were recorded in the province of Surigao del Norte, with waves of an inch reported near the cities of Davao and Legaspi, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said.

Those waves did no known damage, but the earthquake triggered a landslide that killed one person and injured another, the council said.

Tsunami warnings issued in Philippines

"The quake occurred amid a strong rain, so the earth shook loose and there was a landslide," the country's civil defense chief, Benito Ramos, said, The Manila Times reported.

The quake was centered in the Marianas Trench in the western Pacific Ocean and was felt in the country's east, said Aimee Menguilla, a spokeswoman for the council.

Ed Serrano, the head of security at the Marco Polo Hotel in the city of Davao, about 250 miles south of Guiuan, said he felt the ground shake.

"The hotel guests were panicking," he said. "Most of them went outside."

Marie Elairon, working at the front desk at Hotel Dona Vicenta in the city of Borongan, said some people headed to mountainous areas and others took shelter in a church.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said tsunami waves were possible in a vast arc of the Pacific, but the alerts were soon canceled. The Philippines canceled an advisory urging people to evacuate early Saturday.

Ricky Carandang, President Benigno Aquino's press secretary, said there has been minor damage to roads in six provinces authorities were monitoring: Eastern and Northern Samar, Leyte, Southern Leyte, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur. The government also reported damage to bridges and houses.

Paul Earle, a U.S. Geological Survey seismologist, said the quake was "fairly far off the coast, so it likely won't cause severe shaking damage." But, he said, an earthquake "this large could cause a lot of damage" if it were inland.

The U.S. Geological Survey initially said the quake had a magnitude of 7.9 but later revised that figure.

Journalist Maria Ressa reported from Manila; CNN's Zarifmo Aslamshoyeva, Aliza Kassim, Ben Brumfield and Mariano Castillo reported from Atlanta; and CNN's Joe Sterling reported and wrote this story in Atlanta.

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