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Philippines quake causes hospital evacuation, minor damage

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MANILA, Philippines — A strong earthquake rocked a central Philippine province on Thursday, sending people out of their homes at night, prompting dozens of patients to be evacuated from a hospital and causing minor damage to a government coliseum and business establishments, officials said.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or major damage from the magnitude 6 quake that was set off by a local fault line at a depth of 10 kilometers (6 miles), about 11 kilometers (6.8 miles) west of the coastal town of Batuan in Masbate province, officials said.

The quake struck about two hours after midnight, rousing many people from their sleep, Masbate provincial disaster-mitigation officer Adonis Dilao said.

“The first jolt was really strong followed by shaking that woke me up and my baby,” Red Cross officer MJ Oxemer told The Associated Press by telephone from the provincial capital of Masbate city. “We could hear the rumbling of the ground.”

Dozens of patients from a Masbate provincial hospital were evacuated but later brought back after the quake caused some cracks in the three-story building. A part of the ceiling on a small government coliseum in Masbate city was also damaged, Dilao said.

Cracks were also spotted in the concrete pillars of some business establishments, including grocery and drug stores in Masbate city’s downtown area, and in some houses, Dilao told The AP by telephone.

Although business owners have discretion when to reopen, Dilao said they should heed the advice of government safety inspectors because at least two strong aftershocks were felt following the quake. “Unlike typhoons, which can be predicted to give people time to brace, earthquakes can just suddenly hit,” he said.

The quake knocked out power in many areas of Masbate and nearby Ticao island, and some school classes were suspended, the Office of Civil Defense said, adding that damage assessments by local officials were underway.

The Philippines lies along the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” an arc of faults around the Pacific Ocean where most of the world’s earthquakes occur. Each year it is also hit by about 20 typhoons and tropical storms, making it one of the world’s most disaster-prone countries.

A magnitude 7.7 quake killed nearly 2,000 people in the northern Philippines in 1990.

*This story has not been edited by The Infallible staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.