NEW ZEALAND, TONGA ROCKED BY EARTHQUAKES

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No damage reported in Christchurch, Nukualofa

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Oct. 12, 2010) - The New Zealand city of Christchurch has been rocked by a large, long earthquake.

Witnesses say the magnitude 5 quake lasted about 20 seconds and shook buildings in the city center.

The tremor appears to be an aftershock following last month’s powerful 7.1 magnitude quake, which caused widespread damage in the city.

There have been no reports of major damage after two quakes struck Tonga earlier today.

Meanwhile, a strong 6.1-magnitude quake struck off Tonga, a minute after a moderate 5.5-magnitude quake shook the same area.

The AFP news agency says there was no tsunami warning and a low likelihood of any casualties or damage in the remote area.

The US Geological Survey says the smaller quake hit at one in the morning around 140 kilometers northeast of the nation’s capital Nuku΄alofa.

A minute later the 6.1-magnitude quake struck, 152 kilometers from Nuku΄alofa at a depth of nine kilometers.

Tonga lies on the so-called Pacific "Ring of Fire," where continental plates collide causing frequent volcanic and seismic activity.

Nine people died in Tonga in an earthquake-triggered tsunami in October 2009 that also killed 143 people in Samoa and 30 in American Samoa.

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