93 dead as quake hits Philippine tourist islands
Cebu (Philippines): A powerful earthquake killed at least 93 people in the Philippines today as it generated landslides that buried homes, triggered terrified stampedes and destroyed historic churches.
Fifteen of the confirmed fatalities were in Cebu, the country`s second most important city and a gateway to some of its most beautiful beaches, the national disaster agency reported.
The 7.1-magnitude quake killed another 77 people in the neighbouring island of Bohol, famed for its rolling "Chocolate Hills", while one other person died on nearby Siquijor, which attracts tourists with its pristine white sands.
Authorities said the death toll could still climb, with officials struggling to assess the extent of the damage in the worst-hit areas of Bohol where roads remained impassable and power was cut at nightfall.
Bohol police chief Senior Superintendent Dennis Agustin said one of the worst affected areas was the coastal town of Loon, where at least 18 people were killed by landslides that buried houses along large stretches of highway.
Loon is about 20 kilometres (12 miles) from where the epicentre of the quake struck at just after 8:00am (0000 GMT). It faces a narrow strait of water, with Cebu about 25 kilometres away on the other side.
Cebu, with a population of 2.5 million people, is the political, economic, educational and cultural centre of the central Philippines.
It hosts the country`s busiest port and the largest airport outside of the capital of Manila, which is about 600 kilometres to the north.
A university, a school, shopping malls, public markets and many small buildings in Cebu sustained damage in the quake.
Three of the people who died in Cebu were crushed to death in a stampede at a sports complex, according to the provincial disaster council chief, Neil Sanchez.
He said two other people were killed when part of a school collapsed on a car they had parked in, while four others died at a fish market that crumbled.
Ten churches, some of which have crucial links to the earliest moments of Spanish colonial and Catholic conquest in the 1500s, were also badly damaged on Cebu and Bohol.
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