The Philippines national emergency management office on Saturday raised to 175 the number of deaths from the magnitude-7.2 earthquake that rocked the Visayas region in the central part of the country earlier this week.

In its latest report, the agency also said that a total of 487 people were injured and another 17 are still missing.

Bohol Island, where the epicenter of Tuesday's quake was located, had the most fatalities with 162, while another 12 people died in Cebu and another in Siquijor.

More than 3.4 million people in seven cities of three different provinces were affected by the temblor, the most violent the Philippines has seen in the past 20 years.

Of these, 108,917 had to find refuge in about 90 shelters for evacuees that had been installed in the area.

The earthquake destroyed more than 34,000 homes and damaged infrastructure in the region, with 24 bridges sunk and 13 highways blocked in Bohol, making the work of rescue teams all the more difficult.

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 Philippine institute of seismology, known as Phivolcs, has registered 1,846 aftershocks

The Philippines is located in the "Pacific Ring of Fire," a region of frequent earthquakes and volcanic activity that is rocked by about 7,000 earthquakes annually, the majority of them moderate. EFE