Tsunami warning cancelled after powerful El Salvador quake

August 27, 2012

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A strong magnitude-7.3 earthquake shook an area in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of El Salvador Sunday night, prompting U.S. authorities to issue a tsunami warning for the Pacific coast of Central America and Mexico. The warning was later cancelled.

No reports of casualties or damage were immediately available.

The epicenter of the tremor, which occurred at 10:37 p.m. Sunday, was located 111 kilometers (69 miles) south of the city of Puerto El Triunfo, in El Salvador, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Following the quake, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued an alert, saying that the temblor, which took place at a depth of 20.3 kilometers, had spawned a tsunami.

“Sea level readings confirm that a tsunami was generated,” the center said. Later reports said the tsunami was much smaller than initially projected.

In El Salvador, Civil Protection Service Director Jorge Melendez said, “There is no tsunami alert.” The Costa Rican National Emergency Commission also dismissed the tsunami threat.

A second tremor measuring magnitude-5.4 was reported at 11:38 p.m.

The earthquake reading was based on the open-ended Moment Magnitude scale used by U.S. seismologists, which measures the area of the fault that ruptured and the total energy released.

The initial USGS report put the strength of the quake at 7.4, but it was later revised to 7.3.

The quake occurred in the Cocos-Caribbean subduction zone, where the Caribbean plate overrides the Cocos plate. El Salvador is located on the western section of the Caribbean plate.

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