El Salvador tsunami alert cancelled

2012-08-27 11:06

Washington - A strong 7.3 earthquake shook an area in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of El Salvador early on Monday, US officials said, triggering a brief tsunami alert for Central America and Mexico.

The warning was quickly canceled without indication whether the tidal wave had caused any damage.

The epicentre of the tremor was located 111km south of the city Puerto El Triunfo in El Salvador, according to the US Geological Survey.

Following the quake the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre issued an alert, saying that the temblor, which took place at a depth of 54km, had spawned a tsunami.

"Sea level readings confirm that a tsunami was generated," the centre said, pointing out that the threat extended to all Central American nations and Mexico.

"Authorities in the region should take appropriate action in response to this possibility," that it may be destructive, the centre said.

No reports of casualties

Shortly thereafter, the centre said "the tsunami warning... is now cancelled" for all of the affected area: Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Panama and Mexico.

It was not immediately clear where the tidal wave had landed. No reports of casualties or damage were immediately available.

But in El Salvador, Civil Protection Service Director Jorge Melendez dismissed the tsunami threat.

"There is no tsunami alert," he said in San Salvador.

Melendez said a Salvadoran observatory had recorded just a 5.7-point tremor. That measurement was later revised upward to 6.7.

According to Melendez, due to a significant distance from the epicentre, the earthquake was barely felt in El Salvador.

No change in sea level

He said his agency did not issue an official tsunami alert, but said the people living along the coast should maintain "a certain level of vigilance".

Meanwhile the Salvadoran Environment Ministry said it did not notice any change in the level of sea water, but warned that the earthquake "could increase the speed of sea currents".

Because of that threat, it recommended that people stay away from coastal areas and small boats refrain from going out to sea "in the hours following the quake".

The earthquake reading was based on the open-ended Moment Magnitude scale used by US seismologists, which measures the area of the fault that ruptured and the total energy released.

The initial USGS report put the strength of the quake at 7.4, but it was later revised to 7.3.

The quake was not the first reported in the region in the last 24 hours. Early on Sunday, a 4.3 tremor was registered in the Pacific off the coast of Guatemala.