A powerful 7.6 magnitude earthquake followed by four strong aftershocks struck the island of Mindanao, in the south of the Philippines, on Saturday, December 2, and left at least two dead and four injured.

The quake occurred at a depth of 32 kilometers at 10:37 p.m. (3:37 p.m. Paris time) about 21 kilometers northeast of Hinatuan, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said. ). A few hours later, four powerful aftershocks, of magnitude 6.4, then 6.2 and 6.1 and again 6.0 shook the region, according to the USGS. A fifth strong aftershock of magnitude 6.6 was recorded on Sunday.

A 30-year-old man in Bislig town in South Surigao province was crushed to death by a collapsed wall of his house, a local disaster management official said. A pregnant woman was also killed in Tagum city in Davao North province, the national disaster agency said.

Two people were also lightly injured by falling debris in the town of Tandag, about 100 kilometers north of Bislig. The national disaster agency reported four people injured, without it being possible to know whether this toll included those in Tandag.

There are currently no reports of any buildings or infrastructure having suffered major damage, disaster management authorities said. In Hinatuan municipality, about 21 kilometers from the epicenter, authorities said they were continuing to inspect villages for possible damage or casualties.

Brief tsunami warnings

The first quake was followed by a tsunami warning and residents in coastal areas of South Surigao and Davao Oriental provinces were urged to “immediately evacuate” the area and move to higher ground or to the inland. “A destructive tsunami is expected with waves whose height poses a threat to lives,” the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology initially said on X.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii also issued a warning, but later announced it had been lifted. “There is no longer a threat of a tsunami from this earthquake,” he wrote today.

The Philippine Institute of Seismology also raised the alert on Sunday morning. Swells were reported as far away as the eastern coast of Japan, where a tsunami warning was also briefly activated.

Some 45,000 residents were ordered to leave their homes and many were trying to reach higher ground, on foot or by car, according to police officer Joseph Lambo in Hinatuan, who said the earthquake was “very strong”.

In Butuan city, orderlies evacuated patients from a hospital on stretchers and wheelchairs, their IV bags hanging from IV stands.

Earthquakes occur daily in the Philippines, as the archipelago is located on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, a zone of intense seismic and volcanic activity that stretches from Japan to the Pacific Basin through Asia from the South-East. Most are too weak to be felt by humans.