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By John Ravelo

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Feb. 7) – At least nine earthquakes shook the Mariana islands in about two weeks, including Saturday's temblor that measured 6.6 on the Richter scale.

Seven of those earthquakes transpired within four days beginning on Wednesday last week, based on a report by the U.S. Geological Survey. Earthquakes jolted the islands on each of those four days from Wednesday to Saturday last week.

Emergency Management Office director Rudolfo Pua ruled out any casualty and major structural damage resulting from the Saturday quake, saying that he immediately dispatched teams to conduct a preliminary assessment on the potential destruction the temblor might have caused.

The quake caused panic among the public, many of whom rushed outside buildings and houses. It jolted racks and counters at stores, scattering assorted merchandise and breaking bottled items. The magnitude of the quake broke windows and forced people who were staying indoors to hide under tables for safety.

Pua said the quake did not damage any school, while government offices are conducting their respective damage assessments.

The USGS located the center of the quake about 55 miles north of Saipan and about 25 miles south-southeast of Anatahan. Pua explained, though, that tectonic plate movements resulted in the temblor, saying that the ongoing eruption of the volcano on Anatahan did not cause the quake.

The first earthquake felt on the islands this February, as recorded by the USGS, measured intensity 6.3 and was located about 47 miles north of Hagatna, Guam. The intensity of the temblor, which took place at about 4:30am Wednesday, jolted even some Saipan residents from sleep.

Another earthquake of similar magnitude followed that earthquake at noontime on the same day. Many residents felt the ground shake in offices, homes and other establishments on broad daylight, with the USGS recording the quake at about 12:30pm.

The USGS located the center of that quake at about 35 miles west of Rota, 45 miles north of Hagatna, Guam, 100 miles southwest of Saipan, and 165 miles south-southwest of Anatahan.

The USGS also recorded an earthquake on Wednesday night last week. The quake transpired at about 6:09pm and was located about 50 miles north-northwest of Farallon de Pajaros, 180 miles north-northwest of Agrihan, 420 miles north of Saipan, and 530 miles north of Hagatna, Guam.

At about 2:06am Thursday, the USGS located a 5.2-strong tremor about 45 miles southwest of Pagan and 160 miles north of Saipan. It also recorded another earthquake of similar magnitude at about 6:06pm Friday, the epicenter of which was located about 48 miles south-southwest of Pagan.

A 6.3-intensity quake occurred at about 5:34am Saturday before the stronger earthquake shook the ground in the afternoon.

The Marianas also was shaken by a 4.9-intensity quake last Jan. 25 and an intensity 4.7 tremor last Jan. 21, according to a USGS report.

The USGS considers earthquakes with magnitude of at least 6.0 as strong. However, the threshold intensity for a tsunami alert to be raised following a tremor is 7.0. No tsunami watch resulted from the 6.6-intensity temblor Saturday.

February 7, 2005

Saipan Tribune


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