A 7.6 magnitude earthquake has hit off the coast of the Philippines, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS), prompting a tsunami warning for parts of Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Japan, Guam, and other areas.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center confirmed the quake and warning, according to CNN, saying:
“An earthquake of this size has the potential to generate a destructive tsunami that can strike coastlines near the epicenter within minutes and more distant coastlines within hours.”
The quake struck just before 8:50 pm, and its epicenter was located about 65 miles southeast of the Philippine town of Guiuan in the province of East Samar. The epicenter was also 20 miles deep.
The earthquake was felt as far as the city of Davao, which lies 250 miles south of Guiuan. Ed Serrano, the head of security at the Marco Polo Hotel in Davao, stated:
“The quake was very strong and the hotel guests were panicking. Most of them went outside. But now the situation is under control and we are waiting for official reports on how strong the quake was.”
The earthquake was initially measured as a 7.9 on the Richter scale but has since been downgraded to a 7.6, reports NBC News. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries after the massive quake, and tsunami warnings for several Pacific islands, including Taiwan and Japan, have been cancelled.
Samar congressman Ben Evardone sent reporters a text message that read, “Strong earthquake here in Taft, Eastern Samar! And it lasted very long too!” An officials with the Philippines’ Volcanolgy Institute stated that he expects damage in Samar province because of the earthquake, but he had not yet received reports.