Magnitude 7.2 quake hits near Fiji; tsunami alert issued

SYDNEY, Australia - A powerful earthquake struck off the coast of Fiji on Wednesday, prompting a brief tsunami warning for the Pacific island nation. There were no immediate reports of damage.

The magnitude 7.2 quake, which hit at 9:52 a.m. local time, struck about 220 kilometres southwest of the tourist hub of Nadi, the U.S. Geological Survey said. The quake was a relatively shallow 15 kilometres deep. Shallower quakes generally cause more damage than ones that strike deeper.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a tsunami warning for coastlines within 300 kilometres of the epicenter, then lifted the warning about an hour later.  A tsunami of just 1 centimetre was observed in the capital of Suva, the centre said.

An official with the Disaster Management Office in Suva, who did not give his name, said there had been no reports of damage from the quake or tsunami.

Radio New Zealand reported that people evacuated Nadi, a city of about 42,000 on Fiji's main island, after the earthquake.