M6.2 earthquake reported near Tonga; no tsunami warning issued

Jan 27, 2022, 10:21 AM | Updated: 10:22 am
(U.S. Geological Survey)...
(U.S. Geological Survey)
(U.S. Geological Survey)

SALT LAKE CITY — A magnitude 6.2 earthquake was reported about 140 miles northwest of Pangai, Tonga, late Wednesday night.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the quake was stronger than the magnitude 5.8 earthquake that followed the Jan. 14 volcanic eruption and subsequent tsunamis. However, it was more than 150 miles further from the Tongan capital of Nuku’alofa than the eruption.

Wednesday’s magnitude 6.2 earthquake is shown as the orange dot in the upper-left corner while the Jan. 14 eruption is represented by the blue diamond. (USGS)

No tsunami warnings had been issued by the National Tsunami Warning Center, and no damage had been reported as of Thursday morning.

The quake comes less than two weeks after the Jan. 14 volcanic eruption that killed three people, damaged homes and blanketed the Pacific archipelago with ash, contaminating drinking water.

Aid efforts have been slowed by the volcanic ash and worries about COVID-19. Tonga has so far avoided any outbreaks of the virus and has only reported a single COVID-19 case — a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who was returning home from Africa.

Nearly two dozen sailors on an Australian military ship going to deliver aid to Tonga tested positive for the coronavirus, and  British and Australian navy ships arrived in Tonga on Wednesday and attempted to deliver aid without making contact.

Latter-day Saints on the island of Tongapatu spent two days gathering much-needed supplies for those on the outer islands.

Efforts are also underway in Utah to gather emergency supplies to send to Tonga.

The USGS said Wednesday’s earthquake was preceded by a magnitude 5.0 quake that struck less than 30 miles off the coast of Tongapatu earlier in the day. No damage was reported after that quake.

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M6.2 earthquake reported near Tonga; no tsunami warning issued