6 dead in major Philippines quake

6 dead in major Philippines quake
Damage to the roof and structure of the Church of San Pedro in the town Loboc, Bohol is seen after a major 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck the region on October 15, 2013.

CEBU - At least six people were killed when a 7.1 magnitude earthquake destroyed buildings in and around one of the Philippines' major tourist hubs on Tuesday, authorities said.

Four people were confirmed dead at a fish market that collapsed in Cebu, the second most important city in the Philippines and a gateway to some of the country's most beautiful beaches, the local government said.

Another person was killed in a nearby market, while one child was killed in a stampede as people panicked to leave a building, Cebu governor Hilario Davide told ABS-CBN television.

"I was fast sleep when suddenly I woke up because my bed was shaking. I was so shocked, I could do nothing but hide under the bed," receptionist Janet Maribao, 33, told AFP.

"I was so scared, I could not even run out of the house. It was only 30 minutes later that we were able to leave the house."

The quake struck at 08:12 local time (0012 GMT) five kilometres (three miles) east of Balilihan, in the Bohol region of the archipelago, at a depth of 20 kilometres (12 miles), the agency said.

The town lies across a strait about 60 kilometres from Cebu.

Photos on social media showed extensive damage to old churches and modern buildings, including a university, while major roads had also been torn apart.

Patients streamed out of one of Cebu's major hospitals, which was damaged. Local media reported one floor of the building caught fire.

In the immediate aftermath of the quake, authorities were struggling to reach or contact damaged areas, with power lines as well as phone networks down, and a clear picture of the disaster had yet to emerge.

Neil Sanchez, head of the Cebu disaster management office said authorities were trying to confirm reports that a school had collapsed, with an undetermined number of children trapped.

"Communication lines are quite difficult here. Even the disaster risk reduction management office has been damaged. We had to move elsewhere," Sanchez told ABS-CBN television.

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