The death toll from a deadly earthquake that struck the Philippines at 8:12 am local time, has risen from an initial count of 6 to 85 dead. The quake hit near Balilihan, a town of about 18,000 people on Bohol, at a depth of 12 miles, the United States Geological Survey reported. The town lies across a strait about 37 miles from Cebu island, where the majority of fatalities were reported. Efforts are hampered, as would be expected, by power outages and communications damage, according to Sky News.
Neil Sanchez, the head of Cebu’s disaster management office, said: "Communication lines are quite difficult here. "Even the disaster risk reduction management office has been damaged. We had to move elsewhere."
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Residents, as well as tourists, reported that there was extensive damage to historical and modern buildings, including a major university. They also reported several road outages, as many had been simply ripped apart.
The earthquake was a rude awakening for some. Janet Maribao, a receptionist on Cebu, said: "I was fast asleep when suddenly I woke up because my bed was shaking. I was so shocked, I could do nothing but hide under the bed."
The initial earthquake was then followed by at least four jarring aftershocks, each measuring at more than a 5.0 magnitude.
The Philippines is precariously located in the legendary Pacific Ring of Fire, a chain of islands that are prone to quakes and volcanic eruptions, which in turn, can produce some serious tsunamis. However, as of yet, there has been no tsunami warning issued by the Tsunami Warning Center.
85 lives lost is hard to swallow, no matter what the disaster is, but this earthquake, thankfully, hasn't come close to the deadliest recorded natural disaster in the Philippines. That event occurred in 1976, when a tsunami triggered by a magnitude 7.9 earthquake devastated the Moro Gulf on the southern island of Mindanao. A shocking 5,000 to 8,000 people were killed, according to official estimates.
This has been a tough weekend for The Philippines, which endured Typhoon Nari on Saturday. Nari hit the North coast, killing 13 people so far.
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