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Tsunami threat cancelled after mag 6.9 quake in South Pacific

Academy Bay along Santa Cruz Island, Ecuador.
Academy Bay along Santa Cruz Island, Ecuador. Independent Picture Service/UIG via Getty Images

SYDNEY, Australia – A tsunami threat was cancelled Saturday after a strong earthquake struck the Santa Cruz Islands in the South Pacific and no damage or casualties were reported.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said the quake measured 6.9, down from a preliminary magnitude of 7.5. It hit at a depth of 33 kilometres (20 miles) and was centred undersea 75 kilometres (47 miles) northwest of Lata in the eastern Solomon Islands, where the Santa Cruz Islands are located.

The Santa Cruz Islands are about 2,252 kilometres (1,400 miles) northeast of Brisbane, Australia.

The quake wasn’t felt in the Solomons’ capital, Honiara, said Janes Ginting, the Solomon Islands country director for the World Vision aid group. Ginting had not heard any reports of damage elsewhere, though he was still trying to make contact with disaster officials and World Vision staffers in Lata.

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The Solomons comprise more than 200 islands with a population of about 552,000 people. The islands lie on the “Ring of Fire” — an arc that stretches around the Pacific rim and where about 90 per cent of the world’s quakes occur.

A magnitude 8 quake near Lata in February 2013 generated a tsunami up to 1.5 metres (5 feet) high that damaged dozens of homes and left several people dead on the western side of the Santa Cruz.

More than 50 people were killed and thousands lost their homes in April 2007, when a magnitude-8.1 quake hit the western Solomon Islands, sending waves crashing into coastal villages.

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