27 Aug 2012

Earthquake off El Salvador triggers tsunami

A strong 7.3 earthquake in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of El Salvador generates a potentially destructive tsunami that is threatening Central America and Mexico, US authorities say.

The earthquake off El Salvador hit early on Monday (pic: Reuters)

The epicenter of the tremor, which occurred at 0437 GMT, was located 111 kilometers (69 miles) south of the city Puerto El Triunfo in El Salvador, according to the US Geological Survey.

Following the quake the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued an alert, saying that the temblor, which took place at a depth of 54 kilometers (36 miles), had spawned a tsunami.

“Sea level readings confirm that a tsunami was generated,” the center said, pointing out that the threat extended to all Central American nations and Mexico.

It warned that this tsunami may be “destructive along the coastlines of the region.”

According to the center, locations like Cabo San Elena and Puerto Quepos in Costa Rica, Corinto and Puerto Sandino in Nicaragua and Acajutla in El Salvador were among those that faced the danger first.

“Authorities in the region should take appropriate action in response to this possibility,” the center said.

No reports of casualties or damage were immediately available.

The earthquake reading was based on the open-ended Moment Magnitude scale used by US 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 later revised it to 7.3.