Most of the casualties came from Barangay Santa Maria in Itbayat. The quakes, of magnitude 5.4 and 5.9, hit the province of Batanes, a group of sparsely populated islets north of the nation’s largest Luzon island. Many were still asleep. Some of the walls of the houses collapsed and fell on the victims. They were buried by debris in their houses.
More than 1,000 residents of hard-hit Itbayat island , nearly half of the island’s population of mostly fishermen, were advised not to return to their homes and stay in the town plaza as successive aftershocks shook the region. A third quake magnitude 5.7 struck later Saturday. „New houses were damaged and the old houses which we were preserving were completely destroyed,” a resident said. An Itbayat hospital was damaged. Electricity in Itbayat was temporarily cut off for safety reasons. The national disaster agency said it was sending medical and rescue teams to the islands.The Philippines is part of the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, an arc of intense seismic activity that stretches from quake-prone Japan through Southeast Asia and across the Pacific basin.