Kermadec Islands Hit By 7.7 Earthquake

Jul 6, 2011, 16:03 by Sarah Long

A magnitude 7.7 undersea earthquake, centered 99 miles east of the Kermadec Islands, triggered a small tsunami off the coasts of New Zealand and Tonga, seismologists said Wednesday.

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

New Zealand Department of Conservation spokesman Nick Hirst told the Associated Press that 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

Although a tsunami wave was confirmed by sea level readings, the threat passed in less than an hour and the warning was canceled by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

A New Zealand Civil Defense spokesman told the Wellington Post people should stay away from beach areas until the threat dissipated. The quake was strong enough to be felt in Wellington; however, initial reports indicated no damage or injuries occurred.

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," he said, as reported by the Associated Press.

The quake occurred shortly after 7 a.m. New Zealand time Thursday. The magnitude was measured at 7.7 by the U.S. Geological Survey at a depth of 0.62 miles.

Source: UPI