A 7.2-magnitude quake has struck Russia’s Far East region, striking off the Kuril Islands and prompting a tsunami warning for the sparsely populated region.
The quake was felt across the region on Wednesday afternoon local time, with a depth of 56.7km (35 miles). There are no reports of damage or casualties as of yet.
The earthquake triggered a tsunami alert in Hawaii, 5,600 kilometers away, but it was soon called off, with the US National Tsunami Warning Center concluding there was no danger to the small Pacific island chain.
Tsunami Info Stmt 2: M7.5 East Of Kuril Islands 1949PDT Mar 24: Tsunami NOT expected; CA,OR,WA,BC,and AK
— NWS Tsunami Alerts (@NWS_NTWC) March 25, 2020
A tsunami warning was also issued for Severo-Kurilsk District of Russia’s Sakhalin Region, a local branch of the Geophysical Survey of the Russian Academy of Sciences reported.
Striking in the Pacific Ocean 219km (136 miles) southeast of Severo-Kurilsk – a small town with a population of just over 2,500 on the northern end of the Kuril Islands – the quake was initially reported as magnitude 7.8, but was soon revised down to 7.5 by the USGS. The Russian Academy of Sciences’ Geophysical Survey reported it as 7.2.
Terrified locals took to social media providing first-hand accounts of the event that has sent ripples across the region.
“I have never felt anything like that… We immediately ran out of the house, while we usually do nothing,” one person tweeted. “I was really scared.”
Another witness said that she has never experienced anything like Wednesday’s tremor during the 15 years she has lived in the earthquake-prone region.
“I was scared so much for the first time. A photo frame and a vase with artificial flowers fell to the ground.”
Local media reports that people rushed out of their homes, fleeing malls, shops, and offices when the quake struck the region in the middle of the workday around 2:42pm local time. Some were heard screaming as they dashed outside, scrambling to make it to safety. People would not return for 10-20 minutes before the tremors subsided, EADaily reported.
The region is no stranger to earthquakes, with a 4.9-magnitude earthquake slamming Kronotsky Bay on Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula late last month, 300km (200 miles) north of Severo-Kurilsk.