A massive undersea earthquake yesterday in Russia’s far east prompted a tsunami warning and was felt in cities including Moscow far to the west, but there were no immediate reports of casualties.
The US Geological Survey (USGS) estimated the quake at magnitude 8.2 and placed its epicenter in the Sea of Okhotsk off the shore of the Kamchatka Peninsula at a depth of more than 600km.
Russia rapidly issued a tsunami warning for Sakhalin Island and its region, urging residents to seek higher ground. However, the warning was then lifted with no reports of casualties.
The huge magnitude and great depth of the quake meant that its echoes were felt across the Eurasian continent, including in the Russian capital itself.
“There were repercussions of the quake in Nizhny Novgorod, Moscow and Europe, in particular Romania. Practically the whole continent shook,” Anatoly Tsygankov of the state Rosgidromet environmental monitoring service told the Interfax news agency.
According to the RIA Novosti news agency, the earthquake was also felt across Russia’s Far East and Siberia, including big cities like Krasnoyarsk and Blagoveshchensk.
The emergencies ministry in Moscow, which is eight time zones away from the region hit by the quake, said it had received reports early yesterday morning of phenomena like chandeliers shaking and turbulence in aquarium water as a result of the quake.
“Moscow is part of the zone where possible repercussions from earthquakes can be felt. It’s not dangerous, but important, for example, for standard construction,” Arkady Tishkov of the Geography Institute at the Russian Academy of Sciences told Interfax.
However, he said that the last time this happened in Moscow was 30 years ago.
A 21-story office building in Saint Petersburg was evacuated after the people working there felt the building shaking, Fontanka.ru city news Web site reported.
The waves from such a quake travel deep beneath Earth’s surface, said Alexei Lyubushin, chief researcher of the Institute of Physics of the Earth at the Russian Academy of Sciences.
“If an earthquake happens at such a low depth, the waves move along low layers, practically the mantle,” he told Kommersant FM radio.
“The waves can even move through the Earth’s core,” he added.