Earthquakes rock Pacific nations

2013-02-02 13:05
Plot of typical eartquake. (File)

Plot of typical eartquake. (File)

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Taipei - Earthquakes have struck off Taiwan and the Solomon Islands, but seismologists ruled out the possibility of a tsunami.

A 5.5-magnitude earthquake struck off eastern Taiwan on Saturday, the island's Seismology Centre said, but there were no immediate reports of any damage or casualties.

The tremor, which was also felt in the capital Taipei in the north, struck at 11:39 (03:39 GMT), 46.9km southeast of Hualien on the east coast, at a depth of 16.9km under the sea, the centre said.

Taiwan lies near the junction of two tectonic plates and is regularly hit by earthquakes.

In September 1999, a 7.6-magnitude tremor killed around 2 400 people in the deadliest natural disaster in the island's recent history.

A 6.6-magnitude quake also hit off the Solomon Islands on Saturday, Australian seismologists said, but there were no reports of damage and a tsunami threat was also ruled out.

Tsunami

The quake struck near the Santa Cruz islands about 623km from the capital Honiara and was followed by a series of smaller aftershocks, according to Geoscience Australia.

The US Geological Survey initially measured the quake at 6.7-magnitude but later revised it down to 6.3 at a depth of 19km.

"We've got it at 6.6," Geoscience Australia seismologist Jonathan Bathgate said, adding that the quake was "very unlikely" to have generated a tsunami.

A separate bulletin from the the Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre also ruled out the threat of a Pacific-wide destructive tsunami.

The Solomon Islands are part of the "Ring of Fire", a zone of tectonic activity around the Pacific Ocean that is subject to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

In 2007 a tsunami following an 8.1-magnitude earthquake killed at least 52 people in the Solomons and left thousands homeless.

Bathgate said the latest tremors follow two 6.1-magnitude quakes and one 6.4-magnitude in the same area over the past few days.

"There's been four quakes over six (magnitude) in the last three days in that area. It doesn't necessarily indicate that there's anything bigger to come. There could be some more to come or there could be nothing. We just don't know."

- SAPA

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