7.6 magnitude earthquake off Philippines prompts evacuations more than 1,000 miles away

A powerful 7.6-magnitude earthquake prompted panic in the Philippines, evacuations in Japan and tsunami concerns that quickly eased.

The earthquake near the southern Philippines island of Mindanao was strong enough and close to land to shake nearby communities, the U.S. Geologic Survey said in a post on X, formally known as Twitter. It occurred just after 10:30 p.m. Saturday local time.

The Tsunami Warning Center initially said that based on the magnitude and location, it expected tsunami waves to hit the southern Philippines and parts of Indonesia, Palau and Malaysia. But the center later dropped its tsunami warning.

In Japan, authorities issued evacuation orders in various parts of Okinawa Prefecture affecting thousands of people. Okinawa is more than 1,200 miles from Mindanao.

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Villagers fled their homes to safety around midnight in parts of the Philippines, according to authorities and the government's disaster-response agency, which said that it could not immediately provide specific details.

More than three hours after the quake hit, there was no report of a tsunami hitting the coast, Teresito Bacolcol, the head of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, told The Associated Press. Based on the quake's magnitude, Bacolcol said a 3.2-foot tsunami could hit, but the wave could be higher in enclosed coves, bays and straits.

The Philippines, one of the world's most disaster-prone countries, is often hit by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions due to its location on the Pacific "Ring of Fire," an arc of seismic faults around the ocean. The archipelago is also lashed by about 20 typhoons and storms each year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Earthquake near Philippines island of Mindanao prompts evacuations