Earthquake in Negros, Philippines Trigger Tsunami Fear

Scores of panic-driven residents in four villages in Sipalay City, Negros Occidental scampered out of their homes after a 5.0 magnitude earthquake roused this laid-back city at 4:47 in the morning of Tuesday, which authorities said was traced to tectonic movements in the Negros-Sulu Trench.

Eligio Calaur, Assistant Regional Director of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in Iloilo City, said he has received reports that hundreds of villagers fled to higher ground for fear of a tsunami similar to the one that hit Northeastern Japan last March 11.

The villagers are said to be located in low-lying areas, and grim images of the Japan tsunami are still fresh in their minds, local folks said.

Fresh reports reaching the OCD said classes have been suspended, and businesses have opted not to open. Sipalay City lies over 100 kilometers south of Bacolod City, the provincial capital.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said the tremor, which measured 6.2 at the epicenter in Dumaguete City, was also felt in other parts of Negros island, Panay, Guimaras, and Leyte provinces.

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