A magnitude-7.2 earthquake hit Visayas, a region in the central Philippines, on Tuesday, killing at least 87 people and injuring 167 others, officials said.

The powerful earthquake damaged buildings, roads, bridges, monuments and tourist attractions in the region.

Seventy-seven people are confirmed dead on the island of Bohol, where the temblor's epicenter was located, while nine others died in Cebu and one person was killed on the island of Siquijor, Visayas Central police superintendent Danilo Constantino said.

Army troops are carrying out rescue operations, with two military helicopters transporting the injured to hospitals.

A total of 241 aftershocks had been registered as of 3:15 p.m., with the strongest having a magnitude of 5.9, Philippines Vulcanology and Seismology Institute director Renato Solidum said.

The energy released by the earthquake was equivalent to the detonation of "32 atomic bombs like the one in Hiroshima," Solidum told reporters.

People are staying in the streets due to fears of another earthquake, with many residents moving to higher ground because of concerns about the possibility of a tsunami.

The temblor caused mudslides and damaged roads, bridges, hospitals, churches, public buildings and historic sites across the region.

President Benigno Aquino told reporters he planned to visit the disaster area on Wednesday.

The Philippines is located in the "Pacific Ring of Fire," a region of frequent earthquakes and volcanic activity.

The Asian nation is rocked by about 7,000 earthquakes annually, the majority of them moderate. EFE