PHILIPPINES - An earthquake with energy equivalent to "32 Hiroshima bombs" jolted the Visayas, and parts of Mindanao and southern Luzon early Tuesday morning, causing centuries-old churches and modern buildings to crumble, disrupting power and phone services, setting off stampedes and killing at least 97 people.
The nuclear bomb dropped over Hiroshima, Japan, on Aug. 6, 1945, packed power equal to 20,000 tons of TNT.
The 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck at 8:12 a.m. with its epicenter at 2 kilometers southeast of Carmen town in Bohol province, known for its chocolate hills and tarsiers.
Offices and schools were closed for a national holiday-the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha-which may have saved lives.
Bohol and Cebu have declared a state calamity as the death toll rose to 97 in the two provinces, including a 9-year-old girl who died in a stampede that broke out at the queue for the cash transfer programme in Pinamungahan town, Cebu.
President Aquino will fly to Bohol and Cebu Wednesday to check on the damage caused by the quake.
"I will be going to Bohol and Cebu tomorrow, and if possible other areas. And if our assessment is there are a lot of other things that are not being taken care of, then we will reconsider the (Korea) visit. But as of this time, the things that have to be done are being done," the President told reporters.
Senior Supt. Dennis Agustin, the Bohol police chief, reported 87 fatalities in the province based on an actual body count. At least nine others were killed in nearby Cebu province and another died on Siquijor Island, according to field reports.
Agustin said Loon town accounted for at least 20 fatalities; San Isidro and Sagbayan, nine fatalities each; Balilihan, Calape and Antequerra, five fatalities each; Tubigon, Inabanga, Bilar and Catigbian, four fatalities each; and Maribojoc, three fatalities.
Agustin said the towns of Clarin, Buenavista, Loay and Albor had two fatalities each. Tagbilaran City also had the same number of fatalities.
The towns of Getafe, Batu-an, Baclayon, Cortes and Talibon each had one fatality.
Aquino presided over an hourlong closed-door executive session of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) at the Office of Civil Defence.
Combined figures from the Bohol provincial police and the NDRRMC showed that at least 164 people were injured in the province.