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Scientists stationed in Kermadec Islands safe after earthquake

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 8:51 a.m. HST, Jul 7, 2011

WELLINGTON, New Zealand » The eight scientists and staff based at the remote Kermadec Islands in the Pacific Ocean are unharmed after a powerful magnitude-7.6 earthquake struck Thursday.

Agencies in the South Pacific canceled tsunami warnings, saying the danger has passed.

Department of Conservation spokesman Nick Hirst said that the four scientists and four volunteers on Raoul Island were shaken but unharmed, and their facilities undamaged. Hirst said a big part of the agency's job on the islands are to eradicate weeds and animal pests to preserve native species.

The volcanic Kermadec Island peaks are a remote outpost that are generally uninhabited aside from a weather station and a hostel for visiting New Zealand scientists and staff.

The U.S. Geological Survey reported that the quake struck at 7:03 a.m. Thursday (9:03 a.m. Wednesday in Hawaii), was 12 miles deep, and measured magnitude 7.6.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Ewa Beach initially issued a warning for possible tsunami damage in the Kermadecs, Tonga and New Zealand but later canceled it. PTWC officials said a tsunami measured at 2.2 feet was measured at Raoul Island.

The Kermadecs are about 570 miles south of Tonga, the nearest major island, and are 736 miles northeast of Auckland, New Zealand.

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