Thousands of villagers who fled their coastal homes during a powerful earthquake in the central Philippines returned home yesterday, but hundreds more still jittery from the tremor remained in evacuation centres, officials said.
The magnitude-7.6 quake struck off the Philippines' east coast late last Friday, killing one person in a collapsed house, knocking out power in several towns and spurring panic about a tsunami that ended up generating only tiny waves.
The quake hit at a depth of 34.9 kilometres (21.7 miles) and was centred 106 kilometres (66 miles) east of Samar Island, the United States Geological Survey said.
No large tsunami was generated by the quake and it caused only minor damage, including cracks in buildings and several bridges, Civil Defence chief Benito Ramos said.
Official reports said the approaches to one bridge had collapsed, and only one lane was usable on another bridge because of cracks.
Some cracks also appeared on roads in the provincial capital, Borongan city, and several other towns were still without electricity, he said.
About 140 aftershocks had been recorded by early yesterday, including two with a magnitude of 6.4.
Panicked residents in Samar's coastal towns headed for high ground. Some rested under tall trees they planned to climb if tsunami waves reached them.
A house collapsed in southern Cagayan de Oro city, on the main southern island of Mindanao, killing a 54-year-old woman and injuring her 5-year-old grandson,.
"It was very strong. My house was making sounds," Bem Noel, a member of the Philippine House of Representatives, said in a telephone interview.
"You talk to God with an earthquake that strong," he said.
The Philippine archipelago is located on the Pacific 'Ring of Fire', where earthquakes and volcanic activity are common.
A magnitude-7.7 quake killed nearly 2,000 people on northern Luzon Island in 1990.