SYDNEY, Australia – A massive earthquake struck Thursday under the Pacific Ocean floor near Samoa generating a tsunami that could have been destructive if it had been closer to land, authorities said. No damage was reported.
The Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center reported the temblor as magnitude 7 and recorded an 3-inch rise in sea levels near the epicenter.
"Sea level readings indicate a tsunami was generated," the center said in a bulletin posted on the Internet. "It may have been destructive along coasts near the earthquake epicenter."Click here to go to FOXNews.com's Australia, Pacific Center.
The center said if a tsunami had not struck within two hours of the quake, the threat was over.
Sam Ahsan, senior observer at Samoa's Meteorological Division in Apia, speaking by telephone almost three hours after the quake, said there had been no reports of tsunami or other effects.
"It was too far away, there was no damage," he said.
The center said earthquakes of that magnitude sometimes cause potentially damaging waves if they occur within 60 miles of a coastline.
Sefo Fuiono, a police constable in the capital of Samoa, Apia, said buildings swayed and shook for about five minutes during the earthquake, but there was no damage or injuries reported, and no panic among residents.
"It was not so strong," he said.
Samoa is a small island chain about midway between New Zealand and Hawaii. Apia is about 1,900 miles northeast of Sydney. The chain is split into two sections, independent Samoa in the west and the U.S. territory of American Samoa in the east, of which Pago Pago in the capital.