Strong earthquake injures dozens and closes airport in northern Philippines

MANILA, Philippines — A massive earthquake shook much of the northern Philippines, injuring at least 26 people and forcing the closure of an international airport and the evacuation of patients to a hospital, officials said Wednesday.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said Tuesday night’s magnitude 6.4 quake, triggered by movement in a local fault, was centered 9 kilometers (5 miles) northwest of the town of Lagayan in the province of Abra at a depth of 11 kilometers (7 miles).

The US tsunami warning system said no warnings or advisories had been issued.

The quake was felt over a wide area of ​​the main northern Luzon region, including parts of metro Manila, more than 400 kilometers (248 miles) south of Abra.

At least 26 people were injured in Ilocos Norte, the home province of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., where the capital Laoag International Airport was ordered to close temporarily on Wednesday due to earthquake damage, police and civil aviation officials said.

In the town of Batac, also in Ilocos Norte, patients were moved out of the province’s largest hospital after parts of the ceiling of the intensive care unit fell as the building swayed. Medical consultation services have been temporarily suspended as engineers assess damage to the building, officials said.

Marcos Jr, who was in Manila, said authorities were inspecting roads and buildings and welfare officials were providing assistance to affected residents in northern provinces. “Everyone is advised to stay away from large structures,” the president said in a tweet.

In the town of La Paz in Abra, a century-old Christian church was damaged, parts of its belfry collapsed and some walls cracked, littering the church’s grassy courtyard with debris, officials said.

At least two towns in Cagayan province temporarily lost power due to damaged power lines. A number of bridges and roads in outlying provinces were damaged.

In July, a magnitude 7 earthquake caused landslides and damaged buildings in Abra and other northern provinces, killing at least five people and injuring dozens.

In 1990, a magnitude 7.7 earthquake killed nearly 2,000 people in the northern Philippines and caused extensive damage, including in the capital, Manila.

The Philippine archipelago sits on the “Pacific Ring of Fire”, a region along much of the rim of the Pacific Ocean where numerous volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur, making the nation a Southeast Asia is one of the most disaster-prone in the world.

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