Strong earthquake strikes off the Solomon Islands, no tsunami threat

By BNO News

(Eds: Revises magnitude down to 6.7, updates other data.)

NEW YORK (BNO NEWS) — A strong earthquake struck off the island of Makira in the Solomon Islands on Saturday afternoon, seismologists said, but no tsunami warnings were issued.

The 6.7-magnitude earthquake at 4.30 p.m. local time (0530 GMT) was centered approximately 55 kilometers (35 miles) west-southwest of Kirakira, the largest and capital city of Makira island. It struck about 35 kilometers (21.7 miles) deep, making it a shallow earthquake, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center initially measured the strength of the earthquake at 7.1 on the Richter scale, but the USGS eventually revised it down to 6.7.

No tsunami watches or warnings were issued following the earthquake. “No destructive widespread tsunami threat exists based on historical earthquake and tsunami data,” a bulletin from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said.

It was not immediately clear if the earthquake caused any damage or casualties. “Overall, the population in this region resides in structures that are vulnerable to earthquake shaking, though some resistant structures exist,” an analysis from the USGS read.

The agency estimated that approximately 5,000 people perceived ‘very strong’ shaking which could result in moderate to heavy damage. Some 23,000 others were estimated to have perceived ‘strong’ shaking, which could result in light to moderate damage.

Approximately 390,000 others perceived weak to moderate shaking, the agency estimated.

On April 21, 1977, a 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck about 94 kilometers (58.4 miles) northwest of Saturday’s epicenter, killing at least 18 people.

(Copyright 2010 by BNO News B.V. All rights reserved. Info: sales@bnonews.com.)

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