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Strong earthquake hits off Tonga, no damage expected

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Strong earthquake hits off Tonga, no damage expected

2010-10-12 20:32:25 GMT+7 (ICT)

NUKU'ALOFA, TONGA (BNO NEWS) -- A strong earthquake struck off the Pacific island nation of Tonga on early Wednesday morning, seismologists said, but no damage or casualties were expected.

The 6.1-magnitude earthquake at 1.02 a.m. local time (1202 GMT) was centered about 150 kilometers (90 miles) east-northeast of Nuku'alofa, the capital of Tonga. It struck about 9.9 kilometers (6.2 miles) deep, making it a shallow earthquake, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

The agency estimated that approximately 7,000 people may have felt moderate earthquake shaking, which could potentially result in very light or light structure damage. "There is a low likelihood of casualties and damage," it added.

Tongo is on the so-called 'Pacific Ring of Fire', an arc of fault lines circling the Pacific Basin that is prone to frequent and large earthquakes. Volcanic eruptions also occur frequently in the region, which is one of the most geologically active parts in the world.

Tonga, with a population of around 104,000, is made up of 169 islands sprinkled over the Pacific Ocean about one-third of the way from New Zealand to Hawaii. Only thirty-nine of the islands are inhabited.

On September 29, 2009, an 8.1-magnitude earthquake struck 185 kilometers (115 miles) east-northeast of Hihifo on Tonga, unleashing giant tsunamis that killed nearly 200 people and injured hundreds more on Tonga, American Samoa, Samoa, and other nearby islands.

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-- © BNO News All rights reserved 2010-10-12

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