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73 Killed in Philippines Earthquake

A powerful earthquake struck the central Philippines early Tuesday, killing at least 73 people and wounding hundreds more in a popular tourist region.

The 7.2-magnitude quake was centered near Bohol Island, where authorities say the majority of the casualties occurred.

The quake, and several powerful aftershocks, collapsed buildings, buckled roads, and sent frightened residents rushing out of their homes and businesses.

Sian Maynard , a freelance coordinator in nearby Cebu City, tells VOA she was awoken by the temblor, which was the strongest she has experienced.



"I was sleeping in, and I felt my room shake and I saw that the books on my bookshelf were falling off. Then I heard my mom screaming for me to get out of the house."



The death toll is expected to climb as the rescue operation continues on Tuesday.

Pictures on social media showed extensive damage to shops and roads torn apart by the quake. Maynard says several of the area's historic buildings suffered major damage.





"A bell tower in one of our oldest churches has collapsed and (there is) lots of other structural damage around the city, as well. In Bohol, which was supposedly the quake's epicenter, a 400 year-old church collapsed, also."



The quake was centered 56 kilometers above Bohol Island, which is popular with tourists for its so-called "Chocolate Hills."

No tsunami warning was issued. But several powerful aftershocks were reported in the hours after the initial quake, prompting many residents to stay outside.

Tuesday is 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.''

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