More Than 140 Confirmed Dead in Philippines Earthquake
More than 140 people are now confirmed dead after a powerful earthquake struck the Philippines Tuesday morning.
The quake, which registered 7.2 on the Richter Scale, struck in the island of Bohol, a popular tourist resort, and in neighboring Cebu, considered the country's second city.
Initial casualty figures were placed at 32, but officials had warned that that was likely to rise as many victims were still buried under the rubble of destroyed buildings, as well as under deadly mudslides triggered by the quake.
And there are fears the current death toll may rise higher still.
"We expect the number to increase considering there are still areas that need search and rescue [personnel] and there are areas where they need more aid," warned civil defense chief Minda Morante, in an interview with AFP.
Aftershocks are still being reported by locals, even as rescue and recovery efforts continue in earnest.
Speaking to the BBC, Bohol Governor Ed Chatto explained the scale of the damage.
"[The quake] affected all the towns in the whole island province because the epicentre was in the middle of the island," he said.
"People are afraid of going back to their homes for fear of aftershocks. We hope this will stabilize soon so they can return to their respective homes."
The Philippines is no stranger to earthquakes. It is located within the "ring of fire" - a belt of seismic activity including volcanoes and earthquakes - and has experienced many such tremors in the past. Most recently, in August 2012 a 7.6-magnitude earthquake struck close to the island of Samar, destroying buildings, cutting power and triggering tsunami evacuations.