People gather at an evacuation center, in the aftermath of an earthquake, in Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur, Philippines December 2,.//Reuters
Manila – Evacuations were under way in the Philippines after a quake of at least magnitude 7.5 struck the southern region of Mindanao on Saturday night, triggering tsunami warnings in the country and in Japan, though a U.S. agency said the risk of large waves had passed.
The U.S. Tsunami Warning System, which initially warned of waves of up to 3 metres (10 feet) above the usual high tide level, later said there was no longer a tsunami threat.
Evacuations were continuing in the Philippines, where there were no initial reports of significant wave damage or casualties despite continuing aftershocks.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, Phivolcs, maintained that the risk of a tsunami remained.
Waves of 40 cm (1.3 feet) were observed on Japan’s Hachijojima island, some 290 km (180 miles) south of Tokyo, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency, which had initially said they could reach a metre (3 feet) in height.
In the Philippines, Phivolcs urged people living near the coast of Surigao Del Sur and Davao Oriental provinces to evacuate or move farther inland.
It also revised earlier guidance to say it was expecting some damage from the tremor.
However, the two provinces are largely rural and not densely populated, unlike other parts of the Philippines.
The area was quickly hit by more than two dozen aftershocks, the largest measuring magnitude 6.5, according to the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC).