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October 16, 2013

Death Toll Rises to 144 in Philippines Quake

Rescuers are searching for survivors in isolated areas of the central Philippines, a day after a powerful earthquake struck.

Officials said Wednesday the quake's death toll has risen to at least 144 people. Nearly 300 people were injured.

Authorities warn the death toll is likely to rise, since rescuers have yet to reach isolated, badly damaged communities.

Most of the casualties are in Bohol Island, a popular tourist area where the 7.2-magnitude quake was centered.

Hundreds of powerful aftershocks forced many to sleep outdoors on Tuesday night, including patients at some hospitals.

The government is rushing relief supplies to the region, and has declared a "state of calamity" in both Bohol and nearby Cebu.

President Benigno Aquino met with local officials Wednesday, warning people to stay away from landslide-prone areas and damaged buildings.



The quake collapsed buildings, ripped apart roads, and sent frightened residents rushing out of their homes and businesses.

Several of the region's historic buildings suffered major damage, including centuries-old churches,

Tuesday was a national holiday, the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha, which may have led to a reduction in casualties, as many schools and offices were closed.

Earthquakes are common in the Philippines, which lies along the Pacific "Rim of Fire.''