7.4 magnitude hits Pacific near New Zealand

Tuesday, May 16, 2006 Yesterday, at 10:39 p.m. UTC, a 7.4 magnitude earthquake rocked the Pacific Ocean about 180 miles southwest of Raoul Island, a member of the Kermadec Islands in New Zealand. Witnesses disagreed on the length of the earthquake, which was felt as far south as Christchurch, New Zealand, although they agreed the quake lasted from 30 seconds to a minute. Ever since the volcano eruption on Raoul Island on March 18, the islands have been experiencing about 30 earthquakes a day. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center predicted that the earthquake might create a small tsunami with a radius of about 60 miles. There have been no reported injuries or deaths.

The tsunami occurred a couple of hours before a previously-scheduled test of a tsunami warning system. The test had 29 countries participating.

"It is a big earthquake, but the depth would limit any damage," Seismologist Ken Gledhill says.