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February 6, 2012 a massive earthquake stuck the Negros – Cebu region in the Philippines early this morning at 3:49 UTC. The earthquake a magnitude 6.8 destroyed many homes, roads, bridges, and triggered major landslides in the area.  Reported casualties are in the neighborhood of 100, but that number is expected to rise.  

Before Rescue workers could really dig in, an aftershock of 6.2 shook the area again 6 hours later. And  another 6.0 rattled the area only an hour after that. Needless to say rescue efforts have been challenged.  Rescuers dug with shovels and picks trying to reach dozens of people trapped under collapsed houses in the village of Planas, Negros Oriental province.

With much of the region out of power, and panic still in the streets, looting was rampant in the Guihulngan area, forcing the government to commit more troops for police duty instead of rescue assistance. Rescue efforts continued however, with many trying to help with shovels and chain saws to free people that could be heard yelling for help trapped inside buildings

The earthquakes, classified as tectonic in origin by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, were centered approximately two and half miles northwest of Tayasan at a depth of 18 miles. This series of earthquakes looked very similar to the ones in September - October 2009. This region is very active, tectonically speaking and has experienced more than 20 strong earthquakes (M6.0-6.9) and 4 major earthquakes (M7.0-M7.7) just since 1975. The Philippines are located on the Pacific "Ring of Fire" - a belt around the Pacific Ocean where friction between shifting tectonic plates causes frequent earthquakes and volcanic activity.

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