Students evacuate following an earthquake, in Manila, Philippines, December 5, 2023. Image Credit: Reuters

Manila: A strong earthquake with an initial magnitude of 6.2, later downgraded to 5.9, has struck near Manila, with the tremors felt in the capital around 4:23 pm on Tuesday afternoon.

A report by GEOFON Extended Virtual Network (GEVN) states the tremor hit Mindoro at 08:23:51.1 UTC, with a magnitude of 6.2 (mb). The epicentre was plotted at 120.47°E 13.78°N.

Philippine media reported the tremors were felt in Paranaque and Quezon City, both suburbs of Manila.

Government volcanology agency Phivolcs, on the other hand, reported the quake’s magnitude at 5.9.

Phivolcs stated on X (Twitter) that the tremor hit at a depth of 79 km, at 13.84°N, 120.18°E, about 7 km south-east of Lubang, Occidental Mindoro.

Workers evacuated the legislative buildings in Manila, according to ABS-CBN posts on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. The Transport Department halted the operations of all trains in the elevated rail system in the capital, the agency said on X.

There were no immediate reports of casualties and the seismology agency said on X, that it did not expect damage, but warned of aftershocks.

Another tremor at 9pm

At 9.36pm on Tuesday (local time or GMT+8 on December 5), another strong quake with a magnitude of 5.8 hit off north-eastern Mindanao. The epicentre was seen at 65km Northeast of Cagwait, Surigao Del Sur.

Volcanologists stated the quake was tectonic in origin and had a dept of about 10km. There were no immediate reports of damage or fatalities in the Surigao quake, but aftershocks were expected.

The Tuesday tremors came after a series of powerful earthquakes and aftershocks off the country's southern island of Mindanao following a magnitude 7.6 quake late Saturday that briefly triggered a tsunami warning.

At least three people were killed and 17 were injured after the quake hit, with thousands still in evacuation centres.

Earthquakes are a daily occurrence in the Philippines, which sits along the Pacific "Ring of Fire", an arc of intense seismic and volcanic activity that stretches from Japan through Southeast Asia and across the Pacific basin.

Most are too weak to be felt by humans.