A 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck central Philippines Tuesday, with the death toll rising to 93 as emergency personnel struggle to reach patients trapped in a partially collapsed hospital.
"It was very strong," said Robert Michael Poole, a tourist visiting the area. "I live in Tokyo. I am used to earthquakes. But this one was very strong. It shocked a lot of people here."
The quake struck a little after 8 a.m. Bridges, roads, buildings, and vehicles were all damaged, making rescue efforts extremely difficult in the region. Many workplaces and schools were closed in observance of a national holiday, the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha. Among the damaged buildings and debris was the country’s oldest church, the 16th century Basilica of the Holy Child, which was cracked and lost its bell tower.
"Lucky thing is that it is a holiday here today and it happened at a time when nobody was in the church," Poole said.
The death toll, in all areas of the region, will likely rise due to the magnitude of the quake. There is also no report yet on the number of injured people.
"When the shaking stopped, I ran to the street and there I saw several injured people. Some were saying their church has collapsed," Vilma Yorong, a provincial government employee in the Philippines, told the Associated Press.
According to Fox News, the highest number of dead victims was reported in the municipality of Loon, where patients at Congressman Castillo Memorial Hospital were trapped after the quake. So far, 18 were dead there. Rescuers were continuing efforts to find surviving patients.
Police chief Dennis Agustin said that, so far, 77 deaths came from the province of Bohol. About 15 came from Cebu province, and one more died on Siquijor Island. Most of the deceased were hit by falling rubble.
The Philippines is no stranger to natural disaster. Earthquakes and tsunamis are known to happen in the region. The deadliest natural disaster on record in the Philippines was a 1976 tsunami that killed between 5,000 and 8,000 people.
View video footage from Tuesday’s quake below: