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South Atlantic quake triggers tsunami scare in Sir Lanka

Tuesday, January 3rd 2006 - 20:00 UTC
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An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.3 was registered off the South Sandwich Islands in the South Atlantic Ocean, the U.S. Geological Survey reported Monday. There were no reports of injuries or a tsunami.

However news of the quake prompted thousands of residents along the coast of Sri Lanka in Asia to flee inland, officials said. The Japanese Meteorological Agency reported the same earthquake with magnitude 7.5, but the agency said it did not have any information about whether the quake has triggered a tsunami said spokesman Kana Akiyama.

Brian Baptie, a seismologist with the British Geological Survey, said Monday?s earthquake was unlikely to cause a tsunami. He added that the area?s remote location meant the shaking would have a limited human impact.

Alison Dean, commander of the British Antarctic Survey base on the coast of South Georgia, said the scientists there had not felt the earthquake and did not notice anything unusual. She said she was no longer worried about a tsunami because the location and depth of the quake and the position of the base made it unlikely that one would hit

Underwater quakes at shallow depths can cause tsunami waves, which are often barely noticeable in the ocean but can rise to great heights once they arrive at shore.

In December 2004, a magnitude-9 quake caused tsunami waves in the Indian Ocean that swept across 11 countries, leaving at least 216,000 people dead or missing.

South Georgia, formerly a whaling station, is now a permanent station run by scientists from the British Antarctic Survey. The South Sandwich Islands to the south of South Georgia are uninhabited. The islands are administered from the Falkland Islands, some 620 miles away.

Underwater quakes at shallow depths can cause tsunami waves, which are often barely noticeable in the ocean but can rise to great heights once they arrive at shore.

Sri Lanka, a tropical island of 19 million people, was the second-worst affected country after Indonesia by the Indian Ocean tsunami, with about 35,000 killed.

"Until now, we have heard nothing that will suggest a tsunami" said M. Godage of the government's Weather Office, which gets its data from the USGS. "The area is too far", he said.

Categories: Falkland Islands.

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