Samoan Islands earthquake generates small tsunamis

An earthquake with a magnitude of 8.0 struck in the Samoan Islands region Tuesday.
An earthquake with a magnitude of 8.0 struck in the Samoan Islands region Tuesday, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The temblor generated three separate tsunami waves that are spreading, the largest of which measures 5.1 feet from sea level height, said Vindell Hsu, a geophysicist with the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Ewa Beach, Hawaii. Preliminary data had originally reported a larger tsunami. A tsunami warning was in effect for American Samoa, Samoa, Cook Islands, Tonga and Fiji, among others in the South Pacific archipelago, according to a bulletin from the center. A tsunami watch was issued for islands farther from the epicenter, including Hawaii and Papua New Guinea. See a map of where the earthquake hit Officials were determining whether the tsunami could reach Hawaii, the center said. It was possible that a very decreased wave could reach Hawaii at 1:18 p.m. (7:18 ET), Hsu said. The quake is not expected to generate a tsunami along the west coast of the United States or Canada, according to the West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center. Further details were not immediately available. There were no immediate reports of damage.

The quake was recorded at 6:48 a.m. (1:28 p.m. ET) at a depth of about 7.4 miles (11.9 km), the USGS reported. The airports in American Samoa and Samoa were closed in anticipation of a tsunami, but for now, “we haven’t seen any big waves at the moment,” Samoa airport employee Alefosao Mapulino said.