MANILA: A strong earthquake in the southern Philippines has claimed at least one life, as thousands were ordered to evacuate, including in Japan, after tsunami warnings that were later lifted, Al Jazeera reported.
The earthquake, measuring a magnitude of 7.6 according to the US Geological Survey (USGS) and 7.5 according to the European Mediterranean Seismological Centre, struck off the coast of Mindanao island at a depth of 32km. It was followed by four major aftershocks exceeding magnitudes of 6.0 over several hours on Sunday.
The initial quake occurred at 10:37 pm (14:37 GMT), triggering tsunami warnings across the Pacific region. Residents along the east coast of Mindanao evacuated buildings, with a hospital also emptied as people sought higher ground, according to Al Jazeera.
In Japan, authorities issued evacuation orders in various parts of Okinawa prefecture, including for the entire coastal area, affecting thousands of people. Tragically, a pregnant woman lost her life as she, her husband, and her daughter were struck by a collapsed 4.5-meter (15-feet) concrete wall in Tagum city in Davao del Norte province. The husband and daughter sustained injuries.
The US Tsunami Warning System initially projected waves of up to 3 meters (10 feet) along some parts of the Philippine coast but later declared no tsunami risk.
"Based on all available data, ... the tsunami threat from this earthquake has now passed," it said.
Tsunami waves of up to 1 meter (3.2 feet) were expected in Japan's southwest coast, according to Japanese broadcaster NHK.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) anticipated minimal damage from the quake but warned of potential aftershocks.
Raymark Gentallan, police chief of the coastal city of Hinatuan near the epicenter, reported power outages but no casualties or significant damage. Evacuated villagers returned home, and civil aviation officials found no major damage to airports in the south.
On Sunday, numerous villagers who sought refuge in evacuation centres have now returned to their homes, as confirmed by officials.
Following thorough inspections, civil aviation authorities have assured that several airports in the south experienced no significant damage, and flight operations remain uninterrupted.
Images shared on social media by the local administration in Hinatuan, home to approximately 44,000 people, depict numerous residents and lines of vehicles heading towards elevated areas. One sizable shelter accommodated several dozen people during the evacuation, Al Jazeera reported.(ANI)