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USGS: Strong Quakes Strike Off South Pacific Islands

  • Reuters

A series of strong earthquakes struck off the neighboring South Pacific Ocean states of Samoa and Tonga on Monday, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said, just hours after a major tremor rattled Papua New Guinea to the west.

Approximate locations of two earthquakes in the South Pacific

Approximate locations of two earthquakes in the South Pacific

A number of 6.8 magnitude quakes struck southwest of the Samoan capital Apia, in waters between the two island states of Tonga and Samoa.

Leveni Aho, director of Tonga's National Emergency Management Office, said later Monday his staff was trying to make contact with officials on the islands near the epicenter, but had not received any reports of damage. No tremors were felt on Tonga's main island, located about 600 kilometers (370 miles) south of Hihifo, he said.

“I think if there was anything significant, it would have been reported by now,” Aho said.

In Samoa, the quakes were felt throughout most of the islands, and lasted less than a minute, said Filomena Nelson, assistant chief executive officer of the nation's Disaster Management Office.

Residents in Samoa told Reuters there were no reports of damage and the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said there was no tsunami threat.

The quakes came just hours after a major 7.5 quake struck of the coast of Papua New Guinea coast, near the town of Rabaul, in the country's northeast. There were no reports of injuries or damage.

A tsunami warning was issued soon after the PNG quake, though the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said no destructive, Pacific-wide tsunami was expected. The warning was later canceled.

Earthquakes are common in the region, which lies on the “Ring of Fire” - an arc of earthquake and volcanic activity that stretches around the Pacific Rim.

Some material for this report came from AP.