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Tsunami watches called off after 7.7-magnitude quake strikes near Solomon Islands

By
Allen Cone and Stephen Feller
An earthquake with a magnitude of 7.7 hit off the Solomon Islands on Friday morning. Map by U.S. Geological Survey
An earthquake with a magnitude of 7.7 hit off the Solomon Islands on Friday morning. Map by U.S. Geological Survey

HONAIRA, Solomon Islands, Dec. 8 (UPI) -- A 7.7-magnitude earthquake struck off the Solomon Islands in the southern Pacific Ocean on Friday morning, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The quake at 4:38 a.m. was centered 42 miles southwest of Kirakira, the USGA said. The quake was at a depth of 30 miles.

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No injuries or damage has been reported.

"Hazardous tsunami waves from this earthquake are possible within the next three hours along some coasts of Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Nauru, New Caledonia, Tuvalu and Kosrae," the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said.

The center had issued a tsunami watch for Hawaii, with a potential estimated earliest arrival of the first wave around 2:56 p.m., however the watch was cancelled within hours after the quake. A similar tsunami watch was also called off for Australia.

In April 2007, a magnitude-8 earthquake and tsunami struck the Solomon Islands, killing at least 20 people.

The earthquake occurred less than three hours after a 6.5-magnitude earthquake struck the Northern California coast, about 100 miles off the coast of Eureka.

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And on Wednesday, a magnitude-6.5 earthquake in Indonesia killed at least 102 people.

Solomon Islands, about 2,000 miles from Australia, is a sovereign country of six major islands and more than 900 smaller islands in Oceania. The islands' population was estimated at 523,000 in a 2009 report by the United Nations.

The Solomon Islands earned independence from Britain in 1978 and Queen Elizabeth II is the British monarchy head of state.

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