Philippines earthquakes
Office workers are seen outside buildings after three quakes hit in 30 minutes Getty Images

The Philippines was hit by a series of earthquakes on Saturday causing damage to buildings and panic among tourists at a popular diving resort. The quakes, ranging between 5.5 and 5.9 on the Richter scale, came within 30 minutes of each other.

The earthquakes struck at 3.08pm, a minute later, then twenty minutes after that and could be felt in the capital Manila 62 miles north, according to AFP which said its reporters saw people fleeing buildings as they had in Mabini. Though no casualties were reported, some 3,000 residents were being evacuated as a precautionary measure, said the resort's mayor Noel Luistro.

He reportedly told ABS-CBN: "We are evacuating some people who live on the coast. We want them to stay in a safe area tonight."

Quakes of a magnitude of 5-5.9 are defined as 'moderate' which means it can cause serious damage to poorly constructed buildings, though only slight damage would occur to other buildings. AP reported on Saturday that cracks could be seen in buildings in Mabini.

The Philippines is no stranger to earthquakes, positioned in the so-called 'Ring of Fire' – a region of the Pacific which stretches down the west coast of the US and South America, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Philippines and down the east coast of China, touching on Japan.

The zone has one of the world's most active fault lines and is one of major seismic activity. According to Renato Solidum, chief of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, the quakes were caused by the movement of a local fault.

A 6.5 magnitude quake which hit Surigao in the south, killed eight people in February. Prior to that, more than 220 died after a stronger quake of 7.1 magnitude hit in 2013. Though landslides blocked a couple of roads, little more damage was caused on this occasion and no Tsunami warning was in place as a result.

Philippines earthquake
A resident inspects a collapsed building during an earthquake in Cebu city (Reuters)