19 Aug 2018

Magnitude 8.2 earthquake causes minor shake in Tonga

9:05 pm on 19 August 2018

Today's massive magnitude 8.2 earthquake was so deep it didn't cause any serious damage in Fiji or Tonga.

People in Tonga are reporting only minor damage, while the earthquake was widely felt in Fiji, but there are no reports of damage.

The epicentre was 270km east of Levuka in Fiji and 443km west of Neiafu in Tonga and hit just before 1pm.

It didn't trigger a tsunami as it was too deep at 580 kilometres.

Ta Lita Kefu from Nukuʻalofa said she was outside when the earthquake began.

"We felt the first tremor and then we didn't really take notice of it until it kind of shook again and that went on for much longer, about 20 or 30 seconds or so and that's when we realised it was probably an earthquake."

Ta Lita Kefu said she had not noticed any damage on the island, and said things returned to normal fairly quickly.

Tongan geologist Taaniela Kula said there had been small aftershocks after the 8.2 quake but he said he did not expect another big one.

"The 8.2 magnitude was followed by other aftershocks in the area as well; within the range of 60km there were six other events at the range of 5.0 magnitudes, but those other events were not felt."

A spokesperson for GNS science said the quake was 580km below the Earth which would have dampened the shaking at the surface.

He said there had only been four other earthquakes at that magnitude and depth since the 1970s.

And a fresh tremor of 6.3 magnitude struck the Indonesian holiday island of Lombok late this afternoon. An earthquake killed more than 430 people there earlier this month.