A 7.6-magnitude undersea earthquake has struck off the eastern coast of the Philippines, destroying roads and bridges, sending people fleeing to higher ground and triggering tsunami warnings across the region.

The quake hit at a depth of 21.7 miles (34.9km) and was centred 66 miles (106km) east of Samar Island, the US Geological Survey said.

“People are fleeing to higher ground,” the Samar congressman Ben Evardone told local radio.

A disaster agency official said residents in the area should get to higher ground immediately.

“Strong earthquake here in Taft, Eastern Samar! And it lasted very long too!” Evardone said by text message earlier. He said the quake had destroyed some roads and bridges.

There were no immediate reports of casualties.

A radio reporter in Leyte province, near Samar, said people had run out of their homes when the quake struck. “It felt like we were being rocked,” he said.

A tsunami alert was originally issued for several countries including Japan and for Pacific islands as far away as the Northern Marianas, but most of them were soon lifted, leaving warnings only for the Philippines, Indonesia and Palau, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said.

“My neighbours and I have evacuated. We are now on our way to the mountains,” a fisherman, Marlon Lagramado, told the Associated Press in a telephone interview from the coastal town of Guiwan in Eastern Samar.

The head of the Philippine seismology agency, Renato Solidum, said residents living along the coastline of eastern Samar Island had been advised to evacuate to high ground in case of a tsunami.

A local radio station reported one house had collapsed in southern Cagayan de Oro city and there was no electricity in several other towns and cities across the central and southern Philippines. (The Guardian)

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