Predawn Tonga Quake Sparks Tsunami Fears

An earthquake shook the Kingdom of Tonga in the early hours of Thursday, local time. Preliminary word from the U.S. Geological Survey National Earthquake Information Center is that the quake epicenter was about 95 miles south of Neiafu, Tonga, and that it measured a magnitude of 8.0. At press time, according to the USGS, it had not yet received reports of damage or casualties, but it notes that the earthquake may have caused damage because of its location and size. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center is estimating the magnitude of the quake at 7.8. Preventive alerts and warnings issued based on the size of the quake have been recalled for all coastal areas and islands in the Pacific. Although the areas may register what the center describes as small sea-level changes, there is no tsunami threat. However, it notes that sea-level readings indicate that a tsunami was in fact generated and "may have been destructive along coasts near the earthquake epicenter."