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Powerful Earthquake Strikes Southern Philippines

A powerful earthquake has struck the southern Philippines, killing at least five people and injuring dozens of others. Rescue teams have been dispatched to the worst-hit areas.

Thousands of residents in the southern Philippines were jolted from sleep Wednesday morning when an earthquake, measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale, hit the region.

Dozens of buildings were damaged or collapsed on the island of Mindanao. The tremor also triggered a landslide in one province and cut power in some cities.

The quake was centered near General Santos city, about 1,000 kilometers from Manila.

General Melchor Rosales, head of the country's Disaster Coordinating Council, says the damage and death toll could have been greater had the quake struck a more developed area during business hours. "It happened at the early hours of the morning so the schools were not occupied, the markets were not populated at that time," Mr. Rosales said.

He says there was a precautionary evacuation of residents in the worst-affected areas but they had been told to go back to their homes later in the day.

The Philippines is located in an area called the Pacific Ring of Fire, where earthquakes are common.