MANILA (2nd UPDATE) — The powerful magnitude 7 earthquake that rattled parts of Luzon on Wednesday has reportedly left 5 people dead and 64 others wounded, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said.
In its update Wednesday evening, the NDRRMC said that two were reportedly killed in Benguet, one in Kalinga, one in Abra, and another one in Cagayan province.
Among the fatalities was a construction worker in La Trinidad, Benguet, who was hit by falling debris.
The La Trinidad police noted that the 25-year-old victim tried to escape the building he was working on, but was reportedly hit by a rock.
In a press briefing, Interior Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. said 218 towns in 15 provinces were affected by the earthquake that struck 8:43 a.m. These provinces were in Regions 1, 2, and the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), he said.
Office of Civil Defense deputy director for operations Bernardo Alejandro IV said that most of the damaged houses and bridges were in CAR.
He said 61 schools were damaged, while 22 roads were totally closed and 19 others were partially passable following the quake.
NDRRMC spokesperson Mark Timbal said authorities would conduct aerial inspections in the areas worst hit by the earthquake.
The shallow but powerful quake struck the mountainous and lightly populated province of Abra, said Phivolcs. Shallow earthquakes tend to cause more damage than deeper ones.
Authorities in Abra reported that several houses and structures in the province were damaged after the tremor, particularly in the capital Bangued and in Lagangilang town.
Aside from Abra, damaged structures were also reported in Mountain Province and Ilocos Sur, with landslides also reported in Benguet province.
The NDRRMC received reports of loss of mobile signal and power interruptions in Benguet.
No damage was reported in Metro Manila and Regions 2 and 3, as well as in Calabarzon and Mimaropa, the NDRRMC said.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said in a report that it had a total of P328 million of funds on standby for assistance to quake victims.
The Philippines is regularly rocked by quakes due to its location on the Pacific "Ring of Fire", an arc of intense seismic activity that stretches from Japan through Southeast Asia and across the Pacific basin.
Wednesday's quake was the strongest recorded in the Philippines in years.
In October 2013, a magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck Bohol Island, killing over 200 people and triggering landslides.
— With reports from Raffy Cabristante, Job Manahan, Bianca Dava, and Mae Cornes, ABS-CBN News; Agence France-Presse