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Death toll in Philippines quake tops 100

CEBU, Philippines — The death toll from a 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck the central Philippine island of Bohol reached 110 today with only three people pulled alive from rubble.

The three were rescued in nearby Cebu province hours after Tuesday's quake shattered office buildings and homes and caused many centuries-old churches to crumble.

In Bohol, the quake's epicenter, rescuers counted 100 dead, said regional military commander Lt. Gen. Roy Deveraturda. Cebu reported nine fatalities, and one died on another island.

There seems little hope of finding any large number of survivors from beneath the rubble of leveled buildings, homes and churches.

Many roads and bridges were damaged, making rescue operations difficult. But historic churches dating from the Spanish colonial period suffered the most. The country's oldest, the 16th-century Basilica of the Holy Child in Cebu, lost its bell tower.

Nearly half of a 17th-century limestone church in Loboc town, southwest of Carmen, was reduced to rubble, as was the largest church on the island in Loon town, where three worshipers were buried alive.

The entire province was without electricity after the quake cut power supplies.

Authorities set up tents for those displaced by the quake, while others who lost their homes moved in with their relatives, Bohol Gov. Edgardo Chatto said.

Extensive damage also hit densely populated Cebu city, across a narrow strait from Bohol, causing deaths when a building in the port and the roof of a market area collapsed.

The quake set off two stampedes in nearby cities. When it struck, people gathered in a gym in Cebu rushed outside in a panic, crushing five people to death and injuring eight others, said Neil Sanchez, provincial disaster management officer.

"We ran out of the building, and outside, we hugged trees because the tremors were so strong," said Vilma Yorong, a provincial government employee in Bohol.

"When the shaking stopped, I ran to the street and there I saw several injured people. Some were saying their church has collapsed," she told the Associated Press by phone.

The quake struck at 8:12 a.m. and was centered about 20 miles below Carmen city, where many small buildings collapsed.

Offices and schools were closed for a national holiday — the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha — which may have saved lives.

Death toll in Philippines quake tops 100 10/15/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 15, 2013 11:09pm]
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