A 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck the Philippines on Tuesday, killing over 90 people. Cebu and Bohol were two of the areas that were hit the hardest by the earthquake and the following aftershocks and were also the areas where to most fatalities occurred. Churches, homes and low-rise building were all destroyed from the quake. Renato Solidum, head of the state seismology agency, said: "A magnitude 7 earthquake has energy equivalent to around 32 Hiroshima atomic bombs.
Bridges and roads were destroyed, making it almost impossible for travel and power outages prevented many people from contacting loved ones and causing hospitals to evacuate patients. A centuries old church was one of the many structures destroyed by the quake.
The quake struck at 8:12am local time, at a depth of 20 miles below Carmen town on Bohol. Cebu and Bohol are both large tourist towns and rescuers were working hard to help people trapped inside collapsed building or underneath rubble. There were no reports of any foreign tourists among the casualties. President Benigno Aquino will visit the earthquake-damaged areas on Wednesday.
Although the death toll is likely to rise as workers remove debris and gain access to more homes and buildings, it could have been much higher if not for a new public holiday that was being observed Tuesday. the Muslim holiday known as Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice) kept many children out of schools and people out of office building, many of which collapsed during the earthquake.
The 2010 Haiti earthquake that caused so much devastation was a 7.0 magnitude quake, making it slightly weaker than the one that struck the Philippines. It is not uncommon for the Philippines to be hit with powerful earthquakes. The are situated on the Pacific Ring of Fire, a chain of islands that are prone to quakes and volcanic eruptions. Tuesday's earthquake was followed by at least four aftershocks measuring more than 5.0 in magnitude.
Aftershocks can caused building that have been weakened by the earthquake to collapse, making it dangerous for rescuers to find everyone. Once the aftershocks have stopped, it will be safe for rescuers to assess the situation and aftermath and get a better idea of injuries and damage.
Image from Wikimedia Commons.