20 Mar 2009

Tonga quake followed by aftershock

3:19 pm on 20 March 2009

A magnitude 7.9 earthquake occurred near Tonga on Friday, prompting a tsunami warning but causing no major damage.

The United States Geological Survey said the quake, which occurred at 7.17am (local time), was centred 210km south-southeast of the capital, Nuku'alofa, at a depth of 10km.

A 5.2-magnitude aftershock was recorded in the same region just over two hours afterwards.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre issued a tsunami warning for Tonga, Niue, the Kermadec Islands, American Samoa and Fiji, but lifted it nearly two hours after the quake struck.

The centre later said in an updated warning that a tsunami had been generated that could have been destructive along coastlines near the earthquake epicentre.

At least 52 people were killed by a tsunami in the Solomon Islands in April 2007 after a magnitude 8.0 earthquake.