At least 20 people have been killed after a powerful earthquake hit the central Philippines.

The US Geological Survey said the 7.2 magnitude quake occurred underneath the island of Bohol, in a region popular with tourists.

People were killed as buildings and markets collapsed in Bohol and nearby Cebu province. Several buildings and churches were damaged by the quake, the BBC reported.

The quake struck at 8.12am local time today on a national holiday in the country.

Most of those killed were in Cebu, considered the second major city in the country.

At least five people died when part of a fishing port collapsed, the Associated Press news agency said. Two more people died and others were injured when a roof at a market fell, AP adds.

Neil Sanchez, head of the Cebu disaster management office, told broadcaster ABS-CBN that they were trying to confirm reports that a school had collapsed.

The tremor triggered power outages in parts of the province, local media reported.