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Powerful quake jolts New Zealand, triggers tsunami warning

NEW YORK  — A powerful magnitude-7.6 earthquake rattled New Zealand's remote Kermadec Islands in the Pacific Ocean on Thursday, triggering a tsunami alert, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.

The volcanic Kermadec Island peaks are a remote outpost that are generally uninhabited aside from a weather station and a hostel for visiting New Zealand scientists.

The 7:03 a.m. Thursday (1903 GMT Wednesday) quake was 29.8 miles (48 kilometers) deep, the USGS said.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, a U.S. agency, issued a warning for possible tsunami damage in the Keramecs, Tonga and New Zealand but canceled it about an hour later. It said a tsunami measured at 2.2 feet (0.68 meters) was measured at Raoul Island in the Kermadecs.

The Kermadecs are about 570 miles (920 kilometers) south of Tonga, the nearest major island, and are 736 miles (1,185 kilometers) northeast of Auckland, New Zealand.

New Zealand's Civil Defense office warned people to stay off beaches and stay out of the water as long until the tsunami passed.

Auckland regional Civil Defense controller Clive Manly told Radio New Zealand it was not expected to cause damage inland: "You can get quite extreme currents -- so it is a threat to boats -- but at this stage we are not anticipating damage to land."

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