Tonga quake triggers tsunami warning

March 20th, 2009 - 12:13 pm ICT by ANI  

London, March 20 (ANI): A major 7.9-magnitude earthquake that struck off the Tonga islands region has led local radio stations to issue a tsunami warning for Tonga, Samoa and Fiji.

According to a report in the Telegraph, the quake, which hit in early morning today, was centered 130 miles south-southeast of the Tongan capital NukuAlofa and 300 miles southeast of Ndoi Island, Fiji.

It struck at a depth of 6.2 miles, the US Geological Survey said.

The quake occurred near fault lines in the Pacific Ring of Fire, where continental plates in the earths crust meet and earthquakes and volcanic activity are common.

A tsunami warning was issued by the Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre for Tonga, Niue, Kermadec Islands, American Samoa, Samoa and Fiji.

An earthquake of this size has the potential to generate a destructive tsunami that can strike coastlines in the region near the epicenter within minutes to hours. Authorities in the region should take appropriate action in response to this possibility, the centre said.

Local radio stations in Tonga broadcast warnings that a tsunami was possible and that people should move away from coastal villages, but police cited locals who said no big wave had been reported.

Niua Kama, a police spokesman, said that residents did not appear to take the warning seriously.

People are out on the roads, laughing at the warning, he told The Associated Press. They are not moving from the coast even though there had been a strong warning of a tsunami. Police have not taken any action at this stage, he added.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage. (ANI)

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