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Deaths reported after strong earthquake in southern Philippines

A 6.7 magnitude earthquake in the Philippines has killed several people after it hit an impoverished part of the country's south. Damaged and collapsing infrastructure has hindered emergency response measures.

The tremor struck just after 10:00 p.m. (1400 GMT) Friday, according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology. The magnitude 6.7 quake caused damage to several structures as well as to the power supply in the province of Surigao del Norte, 730 kilometers (450 miles) south of the capital, Manila.

The quake killed at least four people, but it's feared the death toll will rise. About 126 injuries were reported. Hundreds were seen fleeing their homes, and schools were being turned into makeshift evacuation centers.

Nearly 100 aftershocks were reported, according to official figures.

Philippinen Vier Menschen bei Erdbeben ums Leben gekommen (Reuters/Str)

The quake was the biggest to hit the area in almost 150 years

"There is chaos, many of those affected are in shock," provincial Governor Sol Matugas said in an interview with a Manila radio station. "Many areas do not have electricity, and the airport has been closed."

The epicenter of the earthquake was 14 kilometers northwest of the city and provincial capital of Surigao. With a relatively shallow depth of 11 kilometers, the quake reportedly was the strongest to hit the area in well over a century.

The 'Ring of Fire'

Initial help and rescue efforts suffered setbacks due to significant infrastructure damage from the tremor. Many roads cracked and were impassable, while reports indicated that at least two bridges in the province had collapsed.

The city's airport also faced temporary closure on account of cracks in the runway, aviation officials said.

The Philippines is located within the Pacific "Ring of Fire," where roughly 90 percent of the world's earthquakes occur.

ss/gsw (dpa, AP)

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