7.5 magnitude earthquake rocks Russia’s Far East – USGS

A powerful 7.5 magnitude tremor has slammed Russia’s Far East region, striking off the Kuril Islands, the US Geological Survey (USGS) reported.

The quake was felt across the region on Wednesday afternoon local time, with a depth of 56.7 kilometers (35 miles). There are no reports of damage or casualties as of yet.

The seism triggered a tsunami watch alert in Hawaii, some 5,600 kilometers away.

Striking in the Pacific Ocean some 219 kilometers (136 miles) southeast of Severo-Kuril’sk, a small town with a population of just over 2,500 on the northern end of the Kuril Islands, the quake was initially reported as having a 7.8 magnitude, but was soon downgraded to a 7.5.

Terrified locals took to social media providing first-hand accounts of the seismic event that has sent ripples across the region.

“I have never felt anything like that…We immediately ran out of the house, while we usually do nothing,” a resident tweeted.

“I was really scared,” she added.

Another witness confessed that she has never experienced anything like Wednesday’s tremor during all the 15 years she has lived in the earthquake-prone region.

“I was scared so much for the first time. A photo frame and a vase with artificial flowers fell to the ground.”

Local media report that residents rushed out of their homes, fleeing malls, shops and offices when the quake struck the region in the middle of the working day, around 2.42 pm local time. Some were heard screaming as they dashed outside, scrambling to make it to safety. People would not return for some 10-20 minutes before the tremors subsided, EADaily reported.

The region is no stranger to earthquakes, with a 4.9 magnitude tremor slamming Kronotsky Bay on Russia’s Kamchatka peninsula late last month, some 300 kilometers (200 miles) north of Severo-Kuril’sk.

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