Tonga Islands – On Sunday, October 18, 2015, a very strong 6.0 magnitude earthquake shook the residents of Tonga Island. According to EarthquakeReport.com, the epicenter of the quake was in the Pacific Ocean at 16.32 s latitude, and 173.38 w longitude, a mere 33 miles South-East of Hihifo, Tonga, as reported by CSEM.org. Neighboring cities that could potentially have felt the effects of the tremor include Apia, Samoa; Tafuna, American Samoa, and Pago Pago, American Samoa. The region is the most seismically active in the world because of the large rates of convergence between the Pacific and Australian plates as reported by USGS.
At the time of this report, other than items being knocked off shelves and moving furniture, no injuries or major damage has been reported. However, earthquakes of 5.0 or higher are known to cause widespread damage, collapsed buildings, and fatalities. Furthermore, due to the enormous magnitude of the shock, authorities consider issuing tsunami warnings to island residents and those living in the surrounding areas.
The quake that reached the 6.0 magnitude near the Tonga islands is one of three that happened within a very short period and in the same general region, each one measuring over 5.0 on the Richter scale.
The Public Slate will continue to update this story as soon as more information becomes available.
By Jireh Gibson
USGS: M5.1 – 53km ESE of Hihifo, Tonga
EarthquakeReport.com: Very Strong earthquake – Hihifo, Tonga on October 18, 2015
Featured Image Courtesy of Sarah Kelemen Garber’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License