Quake shakes buildings in Manila

Philippines

A moderate earthquake shook buildings in the Philippine capital Manila today, seismologists said, although there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties according to the government. The quake struck in the rural north of the country, Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology chief Renato Solidum said, describing it as "moderate" and adding he did not expect damage in the capital.

The US Geological Survey said the 5.3-magnitude quake struck at 10:27am local time (0227GMT), 158 kilometres northeast of Manila. It had a depth of 38 kilometres. Eunice Fernando, a staff member at the upscale Manila Hotel, said they were jolted by the quake but guests did not panic.

"The chandeliers swayed and rattled, and we were a little scared," she said, adding that they did not advise guests to evacuate. Ishmael Narag, chief seismologist at the quake institute, said the epicenter was near the town of Casiguran, 220 kilometres north of Manila, and was also felt in surrounding areas including Manila.

The Philippines sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire -- a line around the Pacific Ocean dotted by active volcanoes and tectonic trenches. In February, a powerful 6.2-magnitude earthquake rocked the southern island of Mindanao triggering panic, although there was no damage nor casualties.

In August last year, a 7.6-magnitude quake on the country's eastern coast triggered a tsunami alert that forced tens of thousands to flee their homes and caused a landslide that killed one person.

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