An evacuation order was issued to coastal dwellers on a remote Philippine island Tuesday after a 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck in the ocean off the archipelago, triggering a tsunami warning.
The shallow quake hit around 9:00pm (1300 GMT) about 120 kilometres (74 miles) from Catanduanes Island, off the main island of Luzon, the US Geological Survey said.
Shallow quakes tend to cause more damage than deeper ones, but so far there have been no immediate reports of damage on Catanduanes.
But the state seismological agency said the quake had caused a "minor sea-level disturbance" and warned 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.
Obo said he was at home when the quake struck. He waited until the building stopped shaking before joining his neighbours outside.
"I have action figures in my cabinet which moved, but they didn't fall," he told AFP.
Police Corporal Rodin Balcueva said the quake was "quite strong" in Pandan municipality, on the northern tip of Catanduanes.
"We hid beneath our tables," Balcueva told AFP.
Ring of Fire
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 nation's civil defence office regularly holds drills simulating earthquakes along active fault lines.
The last major quake was in the northern Philippines in October.
The 6.4-magnitude earthquake hit the mountain town of Dolores in Abra province, injuring several people, damaging buildings and cutting power to most of the region.
A 7.0-magnitude quake in mountainous Abra last July triggered landslides and ground fissures, killing 11 people.