The 7.1-magnitude earthquake which shook islands in Visayas Tuesday was among the strongest earthquakes recorded in the Philippines in more than two decades.
Dozens have already been reported killed during the tremors, which also damaged buildings and other structures, including popular tourist attractions.
The island provinces of Cebu and Bohol have been placed under states of calamity as rescue and relief operations begin. President Benigno Aquino III will visit the areas Wednesday.
The earthquake is the second strongest to hit the Philippines in recent years, topped by the 7.6-magnitude earthquake which shook Samar and nearby areas in August 2012.
The Cebu-Bohol earthquake, however, was deadlier than the Samar earthquake. Only one casualty was reported after the Samar quake despite landslides and a tsunami warning.
The two recent earthquakes compare to other incidents listed in the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) as “destructive earthquakes in the Philippines.”
The 7.9-magnitude “killer quake” in Luzon in 1990 topped the list in terms of magnitude, with casualties recorded at 1,621 persons especially in Northern Luzon provinces.
In terms of death toll, meanwhile, an August 1976 earthquake of the same magnitude in Mindanao holds the record. It caused a small tsunami and killed 4,791 persons.
Others in the list of destructive tremors in the country were the 7.3-magnitude quake in Casiguran, Aurora in 1968, which killed 270 persons and tore down buildings in Manila.
Two 7.1-magnitude earthquakes are in the list. These were felt in November 1994 in Oriental Mindoro, where 78 persons died, and in June 1990 earthquake in Panay, which killed eight.
Officials have meanwhile reminded Filipinos of the need to always stay prepared for strong earthquakes. Phivolcs has also listed some safety tips for Pinoys.
On Wednesday, G-7 foreign ministers issued a Declaration on Maritime Security expressing alarm over “unilateral actions, such as large scale land reclamation, which change the status quo and increase tensions” in the region. In their communiqué, which did not specifically mention China, the ministers expressed belief that reclamation activities were meant to “change the status quo” in the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea, through which 40 percent of global trade passes. …