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Tsunami warning for South Pacific :(


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Tsunami warning issued for Fiji, New Zealand

(Bangkok, Thailand) May 3, 2006 - US government geologists classify it as a "great" earthquake. A magnitude-8.0 quake has struck near the South Pacific island of Tonga, and a tsunami warning has been issued for Fiji and New Zealand.

The US Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued the tsunami warning, but says it's not known whether a potentially deadly ocean wave was generated by the undersea movement.

"This warning is based only on the earthquake evaluation," said the statement. "An earthquake of this size has the potential to generate a destructive tsunami that can strike coastlines near the epicenter within minutes and more distant coastlines within hours."

The US National Weather Service warns that a tsunami could strike Fiji within 30 minutes and New Zealand within 90 minutes.

Tonga is a 170-island archipelago about halfway between Australia and Tahiti. It has a population of about 108,000 people.

Scientists say the earthquake was centered 95 miles south of Tonga, and about 1,300 miles north-northeast of Auckland, New Zealand.

In December, 2004, the most powerful earthquake in four decades ripped apart the Indian Ocean floor off Indonesia's Sumatra island, displacing millions of tons of water and spawning giant waves that sped off in all directions. The tsunami left at least 216,000 people dead or missing in a dozen nations.

More as it becomes available.

updated 1:03pm by Bryce Mursch with AP

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