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Earthquake hits Tonga, tsunami warning issued

Written by: Staff
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LONDON, May 3 (Reuters) An earthquake measuring 8.1 hit the Tonga islands, the US Geological Survey (USGS) Web site today said and a tsunami warning was issued for Fiji and New Zealand.

The warning said it was not known if a tsunami had been generated by the quake but that any such wave would hit Suva, Fiji, at 1713 GMT and Gisborne, New Zealand, at 1821 GMT.

A warning was also issued for Hawaii in the United States but no destructive threat was seen, according to the Pacific Tsunami Centre.

''It is not known that a tsunami was generated. This warning is based only on the earthquake evaluation. An earthquake of this size has the potential to generate a destructive tsunami,'' said the Pacific Tsunami Centre said.

The earthquake was at 1526 GMT, said the Web site monitored in London. It was not immediately clear what damage it caused but a report on Sky Television said it was felt in several islands. A resident of Tonga told Sky he felt tremors lasting over 30 seconds.

The earthquake struck (155 km) south of Tonga's Neiafu island and (2145 km) north east of Auckland, New Zealand, USGS said.

The Tonga islands are an archipelago east of Australia and north east of New Zealand.

An earthquake in December 2004 off Indonesia caused a tsunami across the Indian Ocean that killed more than 200,000 people in several countries.

REUTERS SI RK2258

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