MANILA (Reuters) - Hundreds of residents of coastal areas in a province south of the Philippine capital fled to higher ground fearing a tsunami on Saturday after a series of earthquakes on the main island of Luzon.
Three quakes ranging in magnitude from 5.0 to 5.9 struck Batangas province, about 90 kms (55 miles) south of Manila, around 3 p.m. (0800 BST) over a period of about 20 minutes, said the U.S. Geological Survey.
"Residents in the coastal villages in two towns have evacuated to safer ground after the earthquakes," Lito Castro, head of the provincial disaster council, told local radio. "The people were afraid the earthquakes would generate a tsunami."
Renato Solidum, head of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, said the event was an "earthquake swarm" in a local faultline but had not been powerful enough to cause a tsunami.
"These swarms are natural occurrences and we do not expect a big quake in this area," he said.
Batangas officials said there were no reports of casualties, but power was cut off in some areas and cracks had been reported in homes and some commercial buildings.
Landslides were also reported in some towns and a portion of a Catholic church tower had collapsed, they said.
The region has experienced tremors since earlier this week.
(Reporting by Manuel Mogato and Michael Perry; Editing by Richard Pullin)