An earthquake with a magnitude of 7.0 jolted the northern part of the Philippines' Luzon Island in the country's north on Wednesday morning, leaving at least five people dead and more than 60 others injured, the Philippine government said.
The quake also damaged many buildings particularly in Abra province, at the epicenter, and the nearby province of Benguet. Spanish colonial-era houses and a church in Vigan, a historic city in Ilocus Sur province known as a UNESCO World Heritage site, were also damaged.
The five fatalities were reported in Abra and Benguet, as well as in the nearby provinces of Kalinga and Cagayan, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
One of the victims, a male construction worker, was pinned under a collapsed building, according to a police report and firefighters who went to retrieve his body. The other fatalities died after being hit by debris.
The Philippine government also reported landslides in 58 locations in Abra and Benguet, while several mild aftershocks occurred throughout the day. No tsunami warning has been issued.
Shortly after Wednesday's tremor, which was also strongly felt about 330 kilometers away in the capital Manila, photos shared by local government officials showed tilted buildings and patients being evacuated out of a hospital in Abra.
Following the quake, which occurred at 8:43 a.m. at a depth of 17 km, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. ordered the immediate dispatch of rescue and relief teams and said he plans to visit the affected areas on Thursday.
"We cannot allow people to return to their homes yet," Marcos said at a press conference, as aftershocks may last two more days and landslides might occur in the event of heavy rains.
Benjamin Abalos, the country's interior minister, said power supply was also cut off in Abra and Benguet, while 173 public and private buildings in locations including Abra and Benguet sustained damage.
Abra and Benguet together have a population of about 700,000.
State volcanologist Renato Solidum described the earthquake as "shallow" but a "major" one comparable to the 2013 quake that hit Bohol province in central Philippines and killed over 200 people.
"The reason why there was significant damage in Vigan was that the foundation of the city is essentially sandy because of the big river that would flood the area from time to time," he said.
The Philippines is among the countries located in the Pacific Ring of Fire, a region at the rim of the Pacific Ocean where volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur frequently.