Back-to-back earthquakes strike Philippines, killing 7, injuring dozens

Back-to-back earthquakes strike Philippines, killing 7, injuring dozens originally appeared on abcnews.go.com

Back-to-back strong earthquakes struck the northern Philippines just hours apart early Saturday, killing at least seven people, injuring over a dozen residents and damaging historic stone buildings, officials said.

Early Saturday, tremors hit Itbayat, one of the sparsely-populated Batanes Islands located in the Luzon Strait that separates the Philippines and Taiwan. The region is part of the Pacific "Ring of Fire" — a zone of major seismic activity.

Five people died in the first quake and two in the second, said the mayor of the town of Itbayat, Raul de Sagon. He made the remarks in an interview Saturday on a local radio station, according to the Associated Press (AP). At the time, he said at least 12 people had been injured.

PHOTO: Rescuer teams search for survivors following two earthquakes that struck the northernmost island of Itbayat, Batanes province in northern Philippines, July 27, 2019. (Philippine Coast Guard Via AP)
PHOTO: Rescuer teams search for survivors following two earthquakes that struck the northernmost island of Itbayat, Batanes province in northern Philippines, July 27, 2019. (Philippine Coast Guard Via AP)
PHOTO: A resident looks at damaged houses after two earthquakes struck in Itbayat town, Batanes islands, northern Philippines, July 27, 2019. (Agnes Salengua Nico/AP)
PHOTO: A resident looks at damaged houses after two earthquakes struck in Itbayat town, Batanes islands, northern Philippines, July 27, 2019. (Agnes Salengua Nico/AP)
PHOTO: Damage caused to a building after a pair of strong earthquakes, July 27, 2019, in Itbayat on Batanes Island in the Philippines.  (Agnes Salengua Nico via AFP/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Damage caused to a building after a pair of strong earthquakes, July 27, 2019, in Itbayat on Batanes Island in the Philippines. (Agnes Salengua Nico via AFP/Getty Images)

"The wounded are still being brought in," de Sagon said. Most of the residents of the fishing town had hunkered down in the town plaza because the quakes damaged houses and buildings made of limestone and rocks.

The first quake struck at 4:16 a.m. local time and measured 5.4 on the Richter scale. The second struck at 7:37 a.m. and measured 5.9, Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology reported. After several aftershocks, a third quake which measured 5.7 struck on Saturday evening at 6:11 p.m.

The rescue efforts were ongoing.

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(MORE: Volcano in Philippines continues to erupt, thousands more evacuate )

ABC News’ Jason Volack contributed to this report.

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