Wed | Sep 20, 2017

Strong quakes hit off South Pacific nations of Tonga, Samoa

Published:Monday | March 30, 2015 | 3:02 PMAP

SYDNEY (AP):

A pair of strong earthquakes struck off the South Pacific nations of Tonga and Samoa yesterday, but there were no immediate reports of injuries or damage and no tsunami warning was issued.

The US Geological Survey said the first quake had a magnitude of 6.4 and a depth of 11 kilometres (seven miles), striking 109 kilometres (68 miles) northeast of Tonga's Hihifo district last night. It was followed 30 minutes later by a magnitude-6.5 quake that had a depth of 15 kilometres (nine miles) and struck 99 kilometres (62 miles) northeast of Hihifo.

Leveni Aho, Director of Tonga's National Emergency Management Office, said his staff was trying to make contact with officials on the islands near the epicentre, but had not received any reports of damage. No tremors were felt on Tonga's main island, located about 600 kilometres (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. There were no reports of damage, she said.

The Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there was no threat of a tsunami.

Earlier yesterday, a powerful quake rattled the South Pacific nation of Papua New Guinea, generating a small tsunami but prompting no reports of injuries or damage.

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.