A 7.7-magnitude earthquake shook eastern, central, and southern parts of the country Friday night, prompting a number of people to flee and caused several incidents that left at least one person dead, authorities said.

The quake struck around 8:47 p.m. 10 kilometers under waters off Guian, Eastern Samar, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said.

Around 9:10 p.m., the agency issued tsunami alert level 3, which advised people living in coastal areas in the eastern seaboard to “evacuate immediately.” The alert was recalled 12:10 a.m. Saturday.

The quake was felt at various intensities in different parts of the country. Intensity 7 was felt in Guian, Oras, and Borongan City of Eastern Samar, as well as in Tacloban City, Leyte, according to Phivolcs.

Electric posts shook during the temblor, which lasted for about 45 seconds, and power was shut down for about 30 seconds, Eastern Samar Provincial Police director Senior Supt. Emmanuel Cubillo said.

“The quake was strongest felt in Eastern Samar so far,” Cubillo said by phone from Borongan City.

Strongest in 2 decades, 1 dead

Last night’s quake is the strongest to hit the country since the 1990 quake in Luzon, Office of Civil Defense administrator Benito Ramos said in a phone interview.

“This one’s stronger than what hit Negros in February, but distance lessened its impact. What’s good here is that it occurred 112 kilometers off Guian, the one that hit Negros was just 25 kilometers from land,” he said.

One house collapsed, two bridges, two houses, and a police station were damaged in Guian, Mercedes, Quinapundan, San Julian, Eastern Samar, and Pinabacdao, Samar, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said.

In Cagayan de Oro City, which experienced Intensity 4, 44-year-old housewife Emelita Ubalde, was killed in a landslide caused by the quake.

Ubalde’s 5-year-old grandson, Adrian, was injured in the same incident in Dacudao Compund, Upper Kolambog, Brgy. Lapasan, according to the NDRRMC.

A 6.8-magnitude quake killed at least 51 people and triggered landslides that left dozens missing in Negros Oriental in February. It broke bridges and roads, and shut offices, schools and malls in Central Visayas.

A 7.7-magnitude earthquake killed more than 1,500 people in Luzon in July 1990.

‘Surfing capital’ folk flee

On Friday night, Intensity 6 was felt in Surigao del Norte’s Siargao Island, the country’s “surfing capital,” and Saint Bernard, Southern Leyte. Intensity 5 was felt in Mati City and Cateel of Davao Oriental; Compostela town of Compostela Valley province; Bislig City, Surigao del Sur; Iligan City, Lanao del Norte; Roxas City, Capiz; and Legaspi City, Albay.

A number of people in eight towns of Siargao Island voluntarily evacuated to higher grounds after they observed an “abnormal low tide,” Blanche Gobenciong, director of Office of Civil Defense in Caraga said.

One house in Bunawan, Agusan del Sur, caught fire when the quake toppled a lighted kerosene lamp, but there were no casualties, she said by phone from Butuan City.

At least four small houses collapsed while roads, markets, gymnasiums, jetties, and seawalls in Surigao City and other parts of Surigao del Norte suffered cracks, the NDRRMC said.

Davao, Gensan, Cebu hit too

Like Cagayan de Oro City, Butuan City experienced Intensity 4 along with Dipolog City, Manukan, and Polanco, Zamboanga del Norte; Digos City, Davao del Sur; Tagum City, Davao del Norte; Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental; Catbalogan City, Samar; and Bacolod City.

Intensity 3 was experienced in General Santos City, Cotabato City, and Kidapawan City, as well as some parts of Zamboanga del Norte, Iloilo, Capiz, Negros Oriental, and Camarines Norte.

The quake was also felt in Cebu City, but there were no reports of adverse effects or damages, Mayor Michael Rama said in a text message.

Cebu City experienced Intensity 2 along with Hinigaran, Sipalay City, and La Carlota, of Negros Occidental; and Marawi City, Lanao del Sur, Phivolcs said.

“Medyo malakas din, para kang nahihilo,” Senior Supt. Patrocinio Comendador, Cebu provincial police director, said by phone.

No damages were reported in other areas of Cebu but police and local authorities in coastal areas were also alerted for possible evacuation, considering the province’s proximity to Samar, he said.

There were also no damages or casualties reported in Bohol, Siquijor, and Negros Oriental as of 10 p.m., Central Visayas regional police spokesman Supt. Clifford Gainarod said.

The quake was also felt in Northern Samar, so residents in the coastal towns of Pambujan, San Jose, Mondragon, and Laoang were alerted for possible evacuation, Lt. Col. Arvin Lagamon, commander of Army’s 63rd Infantry Battalion, said. (John Roson)

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