Major Earthquake, Tonga

A major undersea earthquake struck near Tonga early this evening, New Zealand time.

The magnitude 7.1 quake, which struck at 6:11 p.m. New Zealand Daylight Time on Sunday the 19th of October 2008, was located 150 km east-south-east of the Tongan capital Nuku’Alofa (510 km east-south-east of Ndoi Island, Fiji, 1995 km north-east of Auckland) at a depth of 43 km according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre, which estimated the quake at magnitude 7.0 at a depth of 33 km, issued a bulletin at 6:21 p.m. advising that no destructive widespread tsunami threat existed as a result of the quake.

Geoscience Australia, which reported the quake at magnitude 6.9 at the shallower depth of 10 km, reports that the quake would have caused damage up to 90 km from the epicentre and would have been felt up to 1100 km away.

This evening’s quake is the second event of 7th magnitude to strike the South Pacific during the past three weeks. On the 30th of September, a magnitude 7.3 earthquake struck 340 km south-east of Raoul Island in the Kermadec Islands.

[Compiled from data supplied by the U.S. Geological Survey and its contributing agencies, the U.S. National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration’s Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre, and the GeoNet project and its sponsors EQC, GNS Science and FRST.]

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