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Second quake hits Tonga, no damage reported

Written by: Staff
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NUKU'ALOFA, Tonga, May 4 (Reuters) An earthquake measuring 6.0 hit Tonga but residents in the capital Nuku'alofa said they felt nothing, unlike a powerful undersea quake on Thursday which sparked tsunami fears across the South Pacific.

The second quake struck at 12.25 a.m. local time (1125 GMT), 135 km north east of Nuku'alofa, and 2115 km north east of Auckland, New Zealand, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said.

''We don't expect any tsunami warnings,'' Julie Martinez of the USGS told Britain's Sky Television of the latest quake. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii did not issue a warning.

The Tonga islands are an archipelago east of Australia, southeast of Fiji and northeast of New Zealand.

Police and hospital staff in Nuku'alofa said no tremors were felt when the second quake hit. ''We haven't felt anything not like yesterday's big earthquake,'' said Ana Momoala at Nuku'alofa's main hospital.

A 7.9 undersea earthquake tonight shook buildings and cut power in Nuku'alofa, generating a small tsunami and sparking fears across the South Pacific of a major disaster. There was no damage reported from either quake.

Fear had swiftly spread in the region of a tsunami similar to the 2004 disaster that left more than 230,000 people dead or missing across large parts of Asia.

Several hotels in Fiji moved tourists to higher ground and coastal residents in New Zealand abandoned their homes.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center initially issued a tsunami warning for Tonga, Fiji, Samoa, New Zealand and other small island states, cancelling the alert after a few hours.

Fiji's National Disaster Management Office said there was a need to improve communication between emergency service organisations for more efficient disaster warnings.

Pacific Basin countries will stage a tsunami warning drill on May 16-17.

REUTERS PM RN2332

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