Tsunami Warning Issued After USGS Records Massive Earthquake on Pacific Floor

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A powerful earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.6 struck Saturday off the southern Philippine coast, prompting many villagers to flee their homes in panic around midnight after Philippine authorities issued a tsunami warning.

The quake struck at 10:37 p.m. at a depth of 20 miles, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

There were no immediate reports of major damage or casualties.

The Pacific 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, including for the entire coastal area, affecting thousands of people.

Teresito Bacolcol, the head of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, told The Associated Press his agency advised residents along the coast of southern Surigao del Sur and Davao Oriental provinces to immediately evacuate to higher ground or move farther inland.

Owners of boats in harbors, estuaries or shallow coastal waters off the two provinces should secure their boats and move away from the waterfront, the quake agency said in its tsunami warning. Boats already at sea should stay offshore in deep waters until further advised, it said.

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