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MANILA - At least 43 people, including two children, were killed in a magnitude 6.9 earthquake which jolted central Philippine's Negros Oriental shortly before noon Monday.
Among the victims, 29 died in an earthquke-triggered landslide in Planas village. Ten others died in other parts of Guihulngan City. Two others were killed in Tayasan town, while Bindoy and Jimamalud recorded one death each, said Francisco Zosimo Patrimonio, commander of the Army's 302nd Brigade.
Roel Degamo, governor of Negros Oriental in central Philippines, said the earthquake has damaged eight bridges, three of which are no longer passable.
Degamo said soldiers and police are now conducting rescue and relief operations. The governor also suspended all classes and work in government offices for the rest of the day.
The presidential palace has advised residents of Negros Oriental to "remain calm and watchful" and to cooperate with their local officials.
Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the authorities have not ordered any forced evacuation but requested the residents in Negros to "remain vigilant and take necessary safety precautions".
Transportation Secretary Manuel Roxas II has ordered Coast Guard Chief Edmund Tan to prevent fishermen from going out to sea for the duration of the alert.
National Police Chief Nicanor Bartolome has instructed local police officials "to keep the population away from the shoreline, and to ensure the maintenance of peace and order" during the period.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development is on standby to provide relief and support to those affected
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) has put the earthquake at magnitude 6.9, while the US Geological Survey (USGS) put the earthquake's magnitude at 6.7.
Several aftershocks with the strongest of magnitude 6.2 occurred after the strong tremor, which was felt in the provinces of Negros Occidental, Aklan, Iloilo, Antique, Leyte, Masbate, Eastern Samar, Cebu, Bohol, Albay, Sorsogon, Agusan del Norte, Camiguin, Cagayan de Oro city and Zamboanga del Norte.
In its latest report, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said two school age children, respectively 9 and 11, were killed when a concrete wall collapsed during the quake. Both were residents of Tayasan, Negros Oriental.
The NDRRMC reported the earthquake damaged several houses, roads and beach cottages in Negros oriental. A three-storey building in the municipality of La Libertad collapsed.
NDRRMC said the Phivolcs issued level 2 alter tsunami warning soon after the quake, but cancelled the tsunami alert in the afternoon as there were no reports of unusual sea level changes. However, it urges people to stay away from the shoreline and asked residents living near the coastal areas of Negros and Cebu Islands to be watchful.