6.3 earthquake hits Philippines, thousands flee area near Manila

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By Associated Press

MANILA, Philippines — A strong earthquake shook the Philippine capital and outlying provinces Monday, briefly knocking out power, causing boulders to roll down onto a highway, stopping an overhead train service and prompting thousands of people to flee to safety, officials said.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the late afternoon quake had a preliminary magnitude of 6.1 and was centered near the northwestern town of Bodega. There were no immediate reports of injuries or widespread damage.

Renato Solidum, who heads the government’s earthquake institute, said the quake was not strong enough to trigger a tsunami.

Gov. Lilia Pineda of Pampanga province, north of Manila, told DZMM radio that an old church was damaged and some boulders rolled down a hill onto a highway, and some concrete power posts were also toppled in one town.

Thousands of office workers dashed out of buildings in Manila, many wearing hard hats, and residents ran out of houses in panic. An elevated train service was halted and passengers alighted and were made to walk into the nearest stations. Several towns briefly lost power on the main northern Luzon island, officials said.

The Philippines, one of the world’s most disaster-prone countries, is prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions due to its location on the so-called Pacific “Ring of Fire.”

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