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No reported damage, no tsunami from large quake off Solomon Islands

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HONIARA, Solomon Islands >> A powerful earthquake struck underwater off the Solomon Islands, but there was no immediate word of damage and no tsunami alert was issued.

Saturday’s quake had a magnitude of 6.9, the U.S. Geological Survey said. It was centered 35 miles west-southwest of San Christobal in the Solomon Islands at a depth of 22 miles under the ocean’s floor.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Ewa Beach said there was no major tsunami threat from the quake, which struck at 5:30 a.m. in the Solomon Islands (7:30 p.m. Friday in Hawaii.)

The Solomon Islands’ National Disaster Council spokesman Julian Makaa said he had had no early reports of damage or injury in the wake of the temblor.

“We did feel the earthquake (in the capital) … and people in the affected area said they felt a big earthquake,” Makaa told The Associated Press by telephone from the capital, Honiara.

“We’re checking by radio links and by telephone, but we haven’t received any reports of damage,” he said, adding that the council was “still monitoring the situation.”

In April 2007, more than 50 people were killed and thousands lost their homes when a magnitude 8.1 quake hit the western Solomon Islands, sending waves crashing into coastal villages.

The Solomons comprise more than 200 islands with a population of about 552,000 people. They lie on the “Ring of Fire” — an arc of earthquake and volcanic zones that stretches around the Pacific Rim and where about 90 percent of the world’s quakes occur.

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