MANILA: An earthquake of 6.3 magnitude struck the central Philippines on Monday (Apr 22), the US Geological Survey (USGS) said, shaking buildings in Manila and killing at least 16 people in the province of Pampanga.
Three bodies have been pulled out of a collapsed building in the town of Porac in Pampanga, while an old woman and her grandchild were crushed to death by another building in the town of Lubao, provincial governor Lilia Pineda told ABS-CBN television.
"The quake has caused a blackout," she said, hampering rescue efforts in the early evening as night closed in.
Thousands of people fled high-rises in Manila as buildings shook.
In the business district of Makati City, office workers piled out onto the streets as emergency alarms blared, but there were no immediate reports of casualties or damage.
Feliza Villanueva, 21, a business process outsourcing employee told AFP she and four colleagues were at work when the quake struck.
"This was the second strongest quake I've felt in my entire life," she told AFP as she joined hundreds of others in the courtyard of an office building, waiting for the all clear.
"We were worried but we did not panic," she said.
"We planned how to evacuate the building. There were too many people going down the stairs, so we waited for our turn. People looked in shock, but no one was shouting or anything like that," she said.
The quake struck at 5.11pm local time at a depth of 40km in Castillejos, Zambales on the island of Luzon, according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs).
The epicentre is 60km northwest of Manila. Several aftershocks have been recorded.
Photos and video on social media show schools and buildings being evacuated in Manila.
Dani Justo, a martial arts instructor, told AFP she was at her Manila home when the quake struck.
"The clothes hanging on our line were really swaying. My shih tzu (dog) dropped flat on the ground," she added.
Major train lines stopped and long queues formed for buses as people attempted to travel home, said Singaporean Jeffery Teo, who had just arrived in Makati when the quake happened.
The 48-year-old, who is in the Philippines for a business trip, heard "piping and metal clunking sound" coming from the wall and ceiling of the Peninsula Hotel, where he had checked in at about 5pm.
"I was inside the hotel room, (and) could feel the shake pretty obviously," said Mr Teo, adding that he had experienced quakes while working in New Zealand and Taiwan before.
"Aftermath, I went to the lobby. The staff told me the hotel has been here for 43 years and still standing, so I feel very assured."
The Philippines is on the seismically active Pacific Ring of Fire, a horse-shoe shaped band of volcanoes and fault lines circling the edges of the Pacific Ocean.