MANILA - A MODERATE 5.1-magnitude earthquake hit the southern Philippines early on Sunday, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said, but there were no immediate reports of damage and no tsunami warning.

The quake struck Mindanao island at a depth of 10km, 55km south-east of Surigao City - the capital of Surigao del Norte province - at 2.37am, the USGS said.

The Philippines is an archipelago of more than 7,000 islands on the Pacific 'Ring of Fire', where continental plates meet, causing frequent seismic and volcanic activity.

Three major earthquakes of magnitudes between 7.3 and 7.4 took place underwater near Mindanao on a single morning in July, shaking the island but causing little damage.

The last major earthquake to cause widespread death and destruction in the Philippines was in 1990, when a 7.7-magnitude quake killed 2,400 people in the country's north.

Earthquake hits Philippines