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44 killed in Philippine earthquake

Press Trust of India  |  Manila 

At least 44 people, including school children were killed today after a severe 6.8 magnitude quake hit the third-largest island in the Philippines and causing buildings to collapse and shutting down power supply.

The quake struck about 70 kilometres from the coastal city of Dumaguete on the Philippine island of Negros, the US Geological Survey said.

The dead included two elementary school children, authorities said, according to the Philippines News Agency. The girls died when walls at their schools collapsed on them, National Police spokesman Chief Supt. Agrimero Cruz Jr. Said.

"The death toll from a strong earthquake that jolted central Philippine province of Negros Oriental on Monday morning rose to 44, a military official was quoted as saying by a media report.

The earthquake also caused cracked walls and shattered windows in a department store on Negros, said Balido, the military assistant for operations at the civil defense office.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology issued a level 2 tsunami alert for areas along the Tanon Strait between Negros and the neighboring island of Cebu.

The alert -- a notch below the highest tsunami alert of level 3, which required evacuation of the affected areas -- was later lifted after an observation period, according to the Philippines News Agency.

No tsunami warning was issued for the wider Pacific region, and there was no tsunami threat to Hawaii, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said.

The earthquake occurred in the ocean at a depth of 46.6 kilometres, according to the USGS.

The Philippines is situated in the so-called Ring of Fire, an arc of fault lines circling the Pacific Basin that is prone to frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

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First Published: Mon, February 06 2012. 19:14 IST