WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — 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 this morning.
Agencies in the South Pacific this morning also canceled earlier tsunami warnings, saying the danger has now 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 (1903 GMT Wednesday), was 29.8 miles (48 kilometers) deep, and measured magnitude-7.6.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, a U.S. agency, at first issued a warning for possible tsunami damage in the Kermadecs, Tonga and New Zealand but later canceled the warning. It said a tsunami measured at 2.2 feet (0.68 meters) was measured at Raoul Island.
The Kermadecs are about 570 miles (920 kilometers) south of Tonga, the nearest major island, and are 736 miles (1185 kilometers) northeast of Auckland, New Zealand.
New Zealand's Civil Defense office also canceled an earlier tsunami warning, although cautioned that for the next 24 hours "people should exercise caution and discretion before entering the water or going out in small boats in all parts of New Zealand."