7.5-magnitude earthquake hits Philippines, tsunami expected in Philippines and Japan

Dec 2 (Reuters) – An earthquake measuring at least 7.5 on the Richter scale struck Mindanao in the southern Philippines late on Saturday, prompting evacuation orders due to warnings of tsunami waves of a meter (3 feet) or more for some areas and southwestern Japanese coasts.

By midnight (1600 GMT), waves could hit the Philippines and continue for hours, Philippine seismological agency Bivolx said.

The US Tsunami Warning System said some Philippine beaches could see waves up to 3 meters above tide level.

“Boats already at sea during this period should remain in deep water until further notice,” Bivolcs said, urging people living near the coast of Surigao del Sur and Davao Oriental provinces to “evacuate immediately” or “go farther inland.”

Japanese broadcaster NHK said tsunami waves of up to one meter were expected to hit Japan’s southwest coast about 30 minutes later – at 1:30 a.m. Sunday (1630 GMT Saturday).

Bivolks said it expected significant damage from the tremor itself, but cautioned against tremors.

Local police chief Raymark Gendalan of the coastal town of Hinatuan, near the epicenter, said electricity has been cut since the quake, but disaster response teams have so far reported no casualties or damage.

Earthquakes are common in the Philippines, which is located on the “Ring of Fire,” a belt of volcanoes encircling the Pacific Ocean that is prone to seismic activity.

The European-Mediterranean Seismological Center (EMSC) reported a magnitude 7.5 earthquake at a depth of 63 km (39 mi).

The US Geological Survey said the quake registered 7.6 on the Richter scale and a depth of 32 km (20 miles) and struck the Philippines at 10:37 pm local time (1437 GMT).

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Reporting by Mirunmai Dey in Bangalore and Michael Flores in Manila; Additional reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka in Tokyo; Written by Kevin Liffey; Editing by Diane Croft and Alison Williams

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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