Magnitude-7.6 Quake Shakes Kermadec Islands

July 8, 2011

A powerful magnitude-7.6 earthquake rattled the remote Kermadec Islands in the Pacific Ocean, the U.S. Geological Survey reported. It triggered a small tsunami that had New Zealand bracing for high waves.

The quake was felt as far away as Christchurch, New Zealand, said New Zealand’s Geological and Nuclear Sciences agency.

The volcanic Kermadec Island peaks are a remote outpost that are generally uninhabited aside from a weather station and a hostel for visiting New Zealand scientists.

New Zealand Department of Conservation spokesman Nick Hirst said eight workers on Raoul Island, one of the Kermadec Islands, were not injured by the quake.

“They felt the quake — it was a significant jolt — but no one was hurt and no damage has been detected,” Hirst said.

The 7:03 a.m. Thursday quake was 29.8 miles (48 kilometers) deep, the USGS said.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, a U.S. agency, issued a warning for possible tsunami damage in the Keramecs, Tonga and New Zealand but canceled it about an hour later. It said a tsunami measured at 2.2 feet (0.68 meters) was measured at Raoul Island.

The Kermadecs are about 570 miles (920 kilometers) south of Tonga, the nearest major island, and are 736 miles (1,185 kilometers) northeast of Auckland, New Zealand.

New Zealand’s Civil Defense office warned people to stay off beaches and stay out of the water until the tsunami passed.

Auckland regional Civil Defense controller Clive Manly told Radio New Zealand it was not expected to cause damage inland: “You can get quite extreme currents — so it is a threat to boats — but at this stage we are not anticipating damage to land.”

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