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Undersea Quakes Trigger Panic in South Pacific


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Strong undersea earthquakes caused panic in the South Pacific Thursday, sending islanders scrambling to higher ground a little more than a week after a tsunami killed at least 150 people in the region.

The quakes only generated small waves, and there were no immediate reports of damage.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the first quake measured 7.8 in magnitude. It hit about 300 kilometers northwest of Vanuatu and was followed by at least two other strong tremors.

The quakes triggered a tsunami warning for coastlines as far as Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center canceled the alert after recording three small tsunamis, up to 10 centimeters in height, in Vanuatu.

Scientists say the recent spike in activity is not unusual and just a part of normal cycle of earthquake activity.

The latest quakes happened nearly two weeks after a powerful earthquake generated deadly tsunamis that wiped out villages and tourist retreats on the islands of Samoa, American Samoa and nearby Tonga.

In the Philippines, a magnitude 6.7 earthquake was recorded Thursday, nearly 300 kilometers southeast of Jolo on the Sulu archipelago. There were no immediate reports of injuries.


Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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