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GUIUAN, PHILIPPINES (BNO NEWS) -- A major earthquake struck off the Philippines on Friday evening, prompting a tsunami warning for several countries, seismologists and officials said. It was not immediately known if there were damage or casualties, or if a tsunami was generated.
The 7.9-magnitude earthquake at 8:47 p.m. local time (1247 GMT) was centered about 106 kilometers (66 miles) east-southeast of Guiuan, a municipality in the province of Eastern Samar in the Philippines. It struck about 34.9 kilometers (21.7 miles) deep, making it a shallow earthquake, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center immediately issued a regional tsunami warning, although it was not immediately known if a destructive tsunami was generated. A tsunami warning is in effect for Indonesia, the Philippines, Belau, Yap, Taiwan, Japan, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Papua New Guinea.
"It is not known that a tsunami was generated. This warning is based only on the earthquake evaluation," the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said in a bulletin. "An earthquake of this size has the potential to generate a destructive tsunami that can strike coastlines near the epicenter within minutes and more distant coastlines within hours."
It added: "Authorities should take appropriate action in response to this possibility. This center will monitor sea level data from gauges near the earthquake to determine if a tsunami was generated and estimate the severity of the threat."
A tsunami watch has also been issued for islands and countries in the region, including Chuuk, the Japanese coral atoll Marcus Island, Kosrae, Pohnpei, the Marshall Islands, Wake Island, the Solomon Islands, Russia and Nauru. A tsunami watch has also been issued for the U.S. state of Hawaii.
"Based on all available data, a tsunami may have been generated by this earthquake that could be destructive on coastal areas even far from the epicenter," the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said in a message to the state's Civil Defense. "An investigation is underway to determine if there is a tsunami threat to Hawaii."
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