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Five dead, dozens injured as 7.0-magnitude earthquake hits Philippines

Damaged buildings after an earthquake in Santiago, in the Ilocos region of the Philippines, on July 27. (Bureau of Fire Protection/Reuters)

MANILA — A major earthquake struck the northern Philippines on Wednesday morning, killing five, injuring dozens and damaging more than a hundred buildings across the region.

The 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck the province of Abra at 8:43 a.m. local time, according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, which originally had listed the earthquake’s magnitude at 7.3. The U.S. Geological Survey listed its depth at 10 kilometers (six miles).

Five people were killed and 131 injured, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. Landslides and power interruptions were reported across the northern island of Luzon. About 15 cities and 280 towns felt the quake, and several roads were rendered impassable.

The quake was felt in the capital, Manila, but was stronger in the north, affecting the northwestern region of Ilocos and Mountain Province, north of the tourist city of Baguio. Churches and historical buildings were damaged.

In a viral video, parts of the centuries-old Bantay Bell Tower in Vigan City, capital of Ilocos Sur, fell as onlookers in an adjacent park ran.

A 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck the northern Philippines on July 27, downing buildings and injuring dozens. (Video: The Washington Post)

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said he plans to visit affected sites on Thursday. “We are making sure there is adequate response to the needs of our countrymen affected by this disaster,” he said in a statement.

The Philippines is located along the Ring of Fire, a path around the Pacific Ocean know for earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. The archipelago in the western Pacific Ocean also is frequented by typhoons.

According to the USGS, 11 other earthquakes magnitude 6.5 or higher have taken place within 250 kilometers (155 miles) of the current quake. The deadliest of these was a 7.7-magnitude earthquake in 1990 that killed more than 1,600 and injured 3,000.

The country is also anticipating a 7.2-magnitude earthquake, known locally as “the Big One,” when a 100-kilometer (62-mile) fault line cutting across the Manila region shifts. Authorities say the fault last moved in 1658, and it could cause “great devastation” in the capital region when it moves again.

In a news briefing on Wednesday, Marcos said that he would support the creation of a new department for disaster resilience. “I don’t like to say it, but it looks like this will be more frequent,” he said, referring to disasters and extreme weather events. “We need more capability than we have now.”

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