An earthquake measuring magnitude 7.9 struck off the coast of Tonga early Friday, officials said. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a regional tsunami warning for Tonga, Fiji, Niue, the Kermadecs, American Samoa, Samoa and Wallis-Fatuna.
The quake's epicenter was about 213 kilometers (132 miles) south-southeast of Nuku'alofa, Tonga. It struck at 6:17 a.m. local time (6:17 p.m. GMT). The warning center said in a statement. "Some coastal areas in Hawaii could experience small non-destructive sea level changes and strong or unusual currents lasting up to several hours."
* Thursday, March 19, 2009 at 18:17:37 UTC
* Friday, March 20, 2009 at 06:17:37 AM at epicenter
Location 23.015Â°S, 174.782Â°W
Depth 10 km (6.2 miles) set by location program
Region TONGA REGION
210 km (130 miles) SSE of NUKU'ALOFA, Tonga
480 km (300 miles) ESE of Ndoi Island, Fiji
490 km (305 miles) S of Neiafu, Tonga
1830 km (1140 miles) NE of Auckland, New Zealand
TSUNAMI MESSAGE NUMBER 1
NWS PACIFIC TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER EWA BEACH HI
831 AM HST THU MAR 19 2009
TO - CIVIL DEFENSE IN THE STATE OF HAWAII
SUBJECT - TSUNAMI ADVISORY
A TSUNAMI ADVISORY IS ISSUED FOR THE STATE OF HAWAII EFFECTIVE
AT 0831 AM HST.
AN EARTHQUAKE HAS OCCURRED WITH THESE PRELIMINARY PARAMETERS
ORIGIN TIME - 0818 AM HST 19 MAR 2009
COORDINATES - 23.0 SOUTH 174.8 WEST
LOCATION - TONGA ISLANDS REGION
MAGNITUDE - 7.7 MOMENT
| Gewijzigd: 19 maart 2009, 20:36 uur, door Stormchazer
The US Geological Survey said the quake struck at 7.17am NZT at a depth of 10km. Its epicentre was about 210 km south-south-east of the Tongan capital Nuku'alofa.
The quake comes after an undersea volcano has been erupting for days in the region.
A tsunami warning has been issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre and Civil Defence is monitoring the situation.
Civil Defence Director John Hamilton said: "GNS Science has convened the tsunami expert panel and all available New Zealand and international data about the earthquake and sea levels is being closely monitored and analysed.
"Authorities will release further information as soon as it becomes available
A major 7.9-magnitude earthquake that struck off the Tonga islands early today has triggered a tsunami, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said. The Hawaii-based centre issued a tsunami warning for Tonga and neighbouring islands, and reported that sea level readings had confirmed that a potentially destructive tsunami wave was generated by the quake.
The quake, which hit at 6.17am local time, was centred 210km south-southeast of the Tongan capital Nuku'Alofa and 480km east-southeast of Ndoi Island, Fiji. It struck at a depth of 10km, the US Geological Survey said. A tsunami alert was also issued by New Zealand's Ministry of Civil Defence Emergency Management (MCDEM) for all coastal regions of New Zealand, NZPA reported.
Police in Nuku'alofa, said there were no immediate reports of injury or damage. Local resident Pesi Fonua said the quake "lasted for something like 20 seconds" but "I haven't seen any damage from it". Local radio stations in Tonga broadcast warnings that a tsunami was possible and that people should move away from coastal villages, but police and locals said no big wave had been reported.
Police spokesman Niua Kama said 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. More...
A tsunami warning for the south Pacific region has been canceled, the U.S. Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said on its Website.The warning had been issued after a magnitude 7.9 quake struck 132 miles southeast of Nuku'alofa, Tonga, at 6:17 a.m. Friday (1817 GMT on Thursday).
"No tsunami threat exists for other coastal areas in the Pacific, although some other areas may experience small sea level changes. The tsunami warning is now canceled for all areas covered by this center," the Center said in a statement on its Website. (Reporting by Jonathan Standing)
Experts say there is no link between an underwater earthquake - which triggered a tsunami warning this morning and a week of eruptions off the coast of Tonga. The tsunami alert for Tonga and all surrounding island nations - which led to the closure of schools and government offices in Fiji was cancelled just over two hours after it was issued.
The head of human resources at Fiji's Public Service Commission, Vincent Raja-Lingam, says based on advice from the meteorological service, the commission did not reverse its decision to send civil services home. We didn't want to take the risk, he said. Craig Miller, a vulcanologist with New Zealand's Geological and Nuclear Sciences Department, says this morning's earthquake is not related to the week of volcanic eruptions off the coast of Tonga.
It's close to 300 kilometres from the volcano, he said. There have been no reports of earthquake or tsunami damage in Tonga, the closest country to the earthquake's epicentre.