Powerful quake strikes in South Pacific, sparks tsunami

12:16 AM, Feb 6, 2013   |    comments
A magnitude 8.0 earthquake struck near the Solomon Islands Wednesday, triggering a tsunami. (CNN)
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(CNN) -- An 8.0-magnitude earthquake struck off the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific on Wednesday, the U.S. Geological Survey reported, triggering a tsunami.

A tsunami warning was in effect for the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Tuvalu, New Caledonia, Kosrae, Fiji, Kiribati, and Wallis and Futuna, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

A tsunami watch was in effect for more places: Marshall Islands, Howland and Baker, Pohnpei, Tokelau, Samoa, Kermadec Islands, New Zealand, American Samoa, Tonga, Australia, Niue, Cook Islands, Indonesia, Wake Island, Chuuk, Jarvis Island, Guam, Northern Marianas, Palmyra Island, Yap, Johnston Island, Minamitorishima, Pelau, Midway Island, French Polynesia, Hawaii, the Philippines and Japan.

"Sea level readings indicate a tsunami was generated. It may have been destructive along coasts near the earthquake epicenter and could also be a threat to more distant coasts. Authorities should take appropriate action in response to this possibility," the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said in a bulletin.

The center of the quake was located some 360 miles east-southeast of Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands, the USGS said. It was reported to be 3.6 miles deep.

Brian Shiro, a geophysicist at the center, described the tsunami as "significant." He said it was 1 meter high.

The event seems to be localized to the region, Shiro said, and authorities are waiting to see whether they want to expand the alert.

The New Caledonia High Commission in the capital of Noumea ordered the immediate evacuation of coastal residents on the eastern coast of New Caledonia and the Loyalty Islands.

The main quake was preceded by a 6.3-magnitude quake in the region and was followed by several others, the largest of which had a magnitude of 6.6, the USGS said.

There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.


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