Series of strong earthquakes struck islands in the northernmost province of the Philippines, toppling historic buildings and sending terrified locals fleeing their homes and killing at least ten persons and scores of others injured.
Mayor of the worst-hit Itbayat town Raul de Sagon told AFP news agency that eight people had been killed and around 100 others were injured. Seven seriously injured people have since been airlifted out.
Authorities said some of the dead, including two babies just a few months old, were crushed by the walls of their own homes.
“We saw houses shaking. Some of the walls of the houses collapsed and fell on the victims,” police sergeant Uzi Villa said. “Some people died because they were sleeping soundly since it was still early,” he added
The first tremor, measured at a magnitude of 5.4, struck around 4:15am (20:15 GMT on Friday), followed just under four hours later by a 5.9 magnitude jolt.
At least three aftershocks followed, which prompted locals to spend hours in town squares.
The military has dispatched a plane from the capital, Manila, to deliver emergency personnel and relief goods from nearby northern provinces to Itbayat, which can only be accessed by boat.
“We are waiting for the updates if it’s safe to land because they are still experiencing aftershocks,” said Ricardo Jalad, head of the national civil defence office.