According to the United States Geological Survey, a 6.2-magnitude earthquake hit the ocean 120 kilometers (75 miles) from Catanduanes Island, off the main island of Luzon, on Tuesday at around 9 p.m. (13:30 GMT).
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology reported the earthquake’s magnitude as 6.6, but the European Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) stated that it originally estimated the quake’s magnitude to be 6.3.
There haven’t been any instant reports of damage on Catanduanes, despite the fact that shallow earthquakes typically cause more damage than deeper ones.
The state seismological agency said that the quake had caused a “minor sea-level disturbance” and warned that tsunami waves of less than a metre high above normal tides would reach Catanduanes and Samar islands.
“These waves may continue for hours,” it said.
Local disaster officers have been instructed to “ask those living near the sea to evacuate first to higher ground,” said Luis Surtida, Catanduanes provincial disaster officer.
Authorities on Samar said there had been no evacuation order for the island.
So far, there were no reports of significant damage to buildings or infrastructure on Catanduanes, a poor farming island frequently hit by typhoons.
“It wasn’t that strong to generate damage,” said Prince Obo, a disaster officer in Catanduanes’s Gigmoto municipality.
Police Corporal Rodin Balcueva said the quake was “quite strong” in Pandan municipality, on the northern tip of Catanduanes.
Quakes are a regular occurrence in the Philippines, which sits along the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, an arc of intense seismic and volcanic activity that stretches from Japan through Southeast Asia and across the Pacific basin.
Most of the earthquakes are too weak to be felt by humans, but strong and destructive ones come at random with no technology available to predict when and where they will happen.
The last major quake was in the northern Philippines in October.
The magnitude 6.4 earthquake hit the mountain town of Dolores in Abra province, injuring several people, damaging buildings and cutting power to most of the region.
A magnitude 7 quake in mountainous Abra last July triggered landslides and ground fissures, killing 11 people.