Hundreds of homes damaged in Philippines quake

More than 800 homes and businesses were damaged when a 5.6-magnitude earthquake rocked the southern Philippines early Tuesday, officials said.

Cracks snaked across walls and roofs collapsed when the quake struck the southern island of Mindanao before dawn, said Patrick Callanta, operations chief of the civil defence office in Cagayan de Oro city.

One person was injured by falling debris.

"Houses and commercial buildings suffered cracks on their walls or floors. Some roofs collapsed," Callanta told AFP by telephone. "The quake struck while people slept."

Disaster officials in the region said 544 houses, shops and other commercial buildings sustained damage in Valencia city, populated by 163,000 people.

The lone casualty was hit by falling debris in the adjacent town of Maramag, where 316 buildings were damaged, Callanta said.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said the quake struck at 3:44am (1944 GMT Monday) and the epicentre was plotted near Maramag, a town of about 90,000 people.

The Philippines sits on the Pacific Rim of Fire -- a belt around the Pacific Ocean dotted by active volcanoes and unstable ocean trenches.

A 7.6-magnitude quake hit the country's east coast late Friday, triggering a tsunami alert that forced more than 130,000 to flee their homes and causing a landslide that killed one person in Cagayan de Oro.

A 5.9 quake also struck at sea off Mindanao on Monday, but caused no damage or casualties.

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