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7.3 earthquake strikes northern Philippines, causing some damage

A powerful earthquake shook the northern Philippines on Wednesday, injuring at least one person, damaging buildings and sending many people in the capital to the outdoors.

Renato Solidum, head of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, said the magnitude 7 quake was centered around Abra province in a mountainous area.

Michael Brillantes, safety officer for the town of Abra, said: “The ground shook as if I was on a swing and the lights suddenly went out. We rushed out of the office, and I heard screaming and Some of my companions shed tears.” Lagangilang, near the epicenter.

“It was the strongest earthquake I’ve ever felt and I think the ground is going to open up,” Brillantes told The Associated Press by cell phone.

Mr. Brillantes said that at least one elderly villager had his leg amputated and was treated at a clinic.

Authorities are checking for damage or landslides in mountainside villages on the northern edge of Abra, a landlocked agricultural province.

The quake’s strength dropped from the original 7.3 magnitude after further analysis. The institute said the quake was caused by the movement of a local fault at a depth of 25 kilometers (15 miles), adding that it could cause more damage and aftershocks.

The United States Geological Survey measured the earthquake’s strength as 7.0 and depth as 10 kilometers (6 miles). Stronger earthquakes tend to cause more damage.

The Philippines lies along the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, an arc of fault around the Pacific Ocean where most of the world’s earthquakes occur. It is also affected by about 20 hurricanes and tropical storms each year, making it one of the world’s most disaster-prone countries.

A magnitude 7.7 earthquake killed nearly 2,000 people in the northern Philippines in 1990.

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