Major quake jolts Russian Far East
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(CNN) -- An earthquake with a magnitude of 7.7 jolted a sparsely populated area of Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula on Friday, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.
A duty officer at the Koryakia division of the Russian Ministry for Emergency Situations said there are reports of injuries but no fatalities.
The quake's epicenter, the officer said, was not far from the village of Telichiki, which has a population of about 2,000. The officer said there were reports of minor damage to an airstrip at the local airport.
The temblor struck at 12:25 p.m. Friday (7:25 p.m. Thursday ET), the USGS reported. Its epicenter was 125 miles (200 kilometers) northeast of Il'pyrskiy, Russia, and nearly 4,000 miles north-northeast of Moscow. (Map)
The quake's depth was recorded at a relatively shallow 26.7 miles, said Bruce Presgrave, a USGS geophysicist in Golden, Colorado.
He estimated that some 2,000 people lived close enough to the epicenter to have felt it "really strongly." Il'pyrskiy has only a few hundred residents.
In addition, the time of the quake -- shortly after noon -- means few people would have been caught unawares as they slept, he said.
Presgrave said USGS records indicated the quake was "the largest quake on record, since at least 1900, in this general area."
At 7.7, it was more powerful than the 7.6 magnitude quake that killed more than 73,000 people last October in Pakistan. (Full story)
"Quakes of this size, in populated areas, can be just devastating," Presgrave said.
The USGS considers earthquakes with a magnitude greater than 7 to be major earthquakes. However, authorities said there was no danger of a tsunami on the West Coast of the United States.
"As long as it's on land, it's not going to produce a tsunami," said Doug Christensen, a geophysicist at the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. "It has to be on water."
He said about 20 earthquakes of magnitude 7 or greater occur globally each year. Only about one of magnitude 8 or greater occurs annually.
Il'pyrskiy is about 1,000 miles west of the central Alaskan mainland coast.
Several aftershocks, the largest with a 5.4 magnitude, followed the quake Friday.
On April 12, an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.0 occurred just off the Kamchatka coast, the USGS said.
The Koryakia district in the north of the Kamchatka region has five towns and 25 villages. About 30,000 people live in the northeastern Russian region, making it one of the country's most thinly populated areas.
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