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6.9 earthquake strikes Philippines

Death toll on the rise from quake 353 miles outside of Manila

MANILA, Philippines | February 6, 2012

A 6.9-magnitude earthquake in Negros Oriental province in the Philippines' Visayas island chain Monday killed at least 43 people, disaster officials said.

Col. Francisco Zosimo Patrimonio Jr., commander of the Army's 302nd brigade, said most of the victims died in a landslide in Guihulngan, The Philippine Star reported.

Authorities said they were trying to determine the number of people injured.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology issued a tsunami alert soon after the earthquake but lifted it two hours later.

Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo told ABS-CBN the entire province was without electricity and schools suspended classes.

Degamo said the cities of Guihulngan, Tayasan and La Libertad were isolated.

Guihulngan Mayor Ernesto Reyes told the Star the city was experiencing aftershocks that affected communications and transportation. He said some injured people couldn't be taken to a hospital because all the roads and bridges were damaged and no helicopters were available.

Reyes said up to 30 houses were buried by the quake-triggered landslide, the Star reported.

The USGS said the quake struck at 11:49 a.m. local time at a depth of 12.4 miles off the Negros-Cebu region, 353 miles south-southeast of the capital of Manila.

The quake's epicenter was reported in the sea between Negros Island and Cebu.

The Philippine institute said dozens of aftershocks, with the strongest of them at 5.3- and 4.8-magnitudes, were felt after the quake.

CNN, quoting the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, said no warning was issued for the wider Pacific region and there was no tsunami threat to Hawaii.

2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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