A 7.6 magnitude earthquake has occurred off the eastern coast of the Philippines, triggering a small tsunami and causing hundreds of people to flee to higher ground.
At least one person was killed, and another injured, local officials said.
A series of small waves ranging from 16-centimetres (six-inches) to 50 centimetres hit the eastern Philippines about two hours after the quake, according to local authorities, but there were no reports of major damage.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center cancelled a tsunami warning for the area shortly after the first wave made landfall.
"Residents can now return to their homes. It's safe now, the danger of a tsunami has passed," the the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) said.
Local media reported that power had been knocked out to several towns and cities in the area by the earthquake, which took place at 8:47pm local time (12:47 GMT) on Friday. A 5.5 magnitude aftershock hit soon afterwards, PHIVOLCS said.
One person was killed after the earthquake, the country's civil defence chief said.
"There's a 60-year-old woman who died and a five-year-old girl who was injured. There was a small landslide," Benito Ramos said on DZMM radio, referring to an incident in Cagayan de Oro city in the southern Philippines.
"The quake occurred amid a strong rain, so the earth shook loose and there was a landslide." He said no other casualties had been reported.
Ramos said that the earthquake "was felt from the north to the south of the Philippines, on the eastern seaboard".
Tsunami warning cancelled
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center had issued a tsunami warning for the Philippines, Indonesia and Belau, but it lifted the alert at 14:54 GMT.
"Sea level readings confirm that a tsunami was generated," the PTWC said, but added that since no major waves had been reported two hours after the event, it was downgrading its warning.
"Danger to boats and coastal structures can continue for several hours due to rapid currents. As local conditions can cause a wide variation in tsunami wave action, the all clear determination must be made by local authorities," the statement said.
The earthquake hit at a depth of 34.9km, and was centred about 139km from Sulangan, in the Philippines, the US Geological Survey said. The epicentre was about 780km east of Manila, the capital of the Philippines.
PHIVOLCS chief Renato Solidum said that residents living along the coastline of eastern Samar Island were advised to evacuate to high ground in case of the tsunami.
"Waves could reach one metre high and as a precaution those living in coastal areas facing the sea should now evacuate and go to higher areas," he said.
"We're used to quakes here so residents immediately went to higher ground," Pinky Almaite, a resident of Sulat, a seaside town in Eastern Samar, told the Reuters news agency.
"Many were running as they took with them whatever their hands could carry - flashlights, food, clothes, some even took
Large parts of Samar and Leyte province had no power or internet connections. "The only lights you see are from vehicles in the streets headed to higher ground," said a radio reporter in the town of Borongan.
Several houses have been reported to be damaged in Cagayan de Oro and northern Mindanao.
Paula Daza, the governor of northern Samar province, one of the areas closest to where the earthquake struck, said power had been cut in the area and there were reports of damage to infrastructure.
"Some cracks appeared on concrete roads, and at the base of at least one bridge," he said.
Sol Matugas, the governor of another eastern region, Surigao del Norte, said on DZMM radio that the quake had severely shaken homes.
"We were rather frightened. For the first time, we saw objects falling out of our cabinets," he said.
"My neighbours and I have evacuated. We are now on our way to the mountains,'' fisherman Marlon Lagramado told the AP news agency in a telephone interview from the coastal town of Guiwan in the Philippine province of Eastern Samar.
The earthquake was revised down by the United States Geological Survey after an initial 7.9 magnitude reading.
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|Timothy V. Gatto|