7.6-magnitude earthquake hits off coast of southern Philippines

MANILA, Philippines — A powerful earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.6 struck Saturday off the coast of the southern Philippines island of Mindanao and Philippine authorities issued a tsunami warning.

The quake struck at 10:37 p.m. and was measured at a depth of 20 miles. There are no immediate reports of damage or casualties.

A US State Department said it is aware of the earthquake and was working with local authorities to determine if any U.S. citizens were affected.

The agency said it stands “ready to provide consular assistance.”

“The U.S. Department of State has no higher priority than the safety and security of U.S. citizens overseas,” the agency said. “We urge U.S. citizens in the affected areas who are safe to contact their loved ones directly and, or update their status on social media. If you are in the affected area and need immediate emergency services, please contact local authorities.”

Image: Patients at Manuel J. Santos Hospital in Butuan City, southern Philippines, are evacuated after an earthquake,
Patients at Manuel J. Santos Hospital in Butuan City, Philippines, are evacuated after an earthquake Saturday evening.Ivy Marie Mangadlao / AP

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said based on the magnitude and location it expected tsunami waves to hit the southern Philippines and parts of Indonesia, Palau and Malaysia. But the center later dropped its tsunami warning.

In Japan, authorities issued evacuation orders in various parts of Okinawa Prefecture, including for the entire coastal area, affecting thousands of people.

Teresito Bacolcol of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology Seismology told The Associated Press his agency advised residents along the coast of southern Surigao del Sur and Davao Oriental provinces to evacuate immediately to higher grounds.

The Philippines experiences regular earthquakes and volcanic eruptions due to its location on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” an arc of seismic faults around the ocean.