A shallow quake struck southeast of Masbate Island in the Bicol region on Tuesday (Aug 18) at 0803Hrs, the US Geological Survey reported.
The 6.6-magnitude earthquake shook the central Philippines, killing at least one person and damaging roads and buildings including a hospital and a sports complex being used as a covid-19 quarantine centre.
“There are a lot of damaged houses,” said Staff Sergeant Antonio Clemente in Cataingan, a town of about 50,000 people on the impoverished island several kilometres west of the epicentre in the Samar Sea.
It was the strongest earthquake in eight months in the Philippines, which lies on the “Ring of Fire,” a seismically active belt of volcanoes circling the Pacific Ocean.
One man, a retired police colonel, was killed when his three-storey house collapsed, while four people suffered minor injuries.
Engineers were checking a damaged sports complex to see if it was safe to accommodate people staying there in quarantine after moving back from the capital, Manila.
The quake struck as the archipelago battles surging numbers of coronavirus infections, with more than 164,000 cases and restrictions on movement that vary across the country.
So far at least 14 aftershocks have been recorded by the Philippine seismology office, with the strongest registering at a magnitude 3.5. The quake was felt hundreds of kilometres away.