The Philippine National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council raised to 171 Friday the number of dead in the magnitude-7.2 earthquake that shook the central region of Visayas.

Another 375 people were injured and 20 have been missing since Tuesday morning, when the temblor struck.

Bohol Island, where the epicenter of the quake was located, accounts for 159 of the 171 fatalities.

More than 3.4 million people in three different provinces have been affected by the earthquake, the most powerful the Philippines has seen in the past 20 years.

More than 162,000 have been forced to move, 97,000 of whom are in shelters.

The quake did serious damage to hospitals, highways, bridges and government buildings, as well as to a number of monuments.

Some 17 historical churches were also damaged, including the 16th-century Minor Basilica of the Holy Child in Cebu, considered the oldest Roman Catholic Church in the country.

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