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Strong Quake Hits near Solomon Islands; Tsunami Warning Cancelled

(Reuters) - A powerful magnitude 7.6 earthquake struck near the Solomon Islands on Sunday morning, triggering a tsunami warning that was later cancelled, according to U.S. government agencies, and there were no immediate reports of damage.

The quake was centered 100 km (60 miles) south of Kira Kira on the island of Makira at a depth of 29 km (18 miles), according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

"So far we have received no reports of damage," said Constable Taylor Fugo from Kira Kira police. "The people responded very well to the (tsunami) warning. They all went up the hills and have been watching and waiting for advice."

A tsunami warning for the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu was cancelled after only very small tsunami wave activity, just a couple of centimetres, had been measured at two reading stations near the epicentre, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said.

An earlier tsunami watch for Fiji, Australia, Indonesia and nearby areas was cancelled after the earthquake was revised down from its original magnitude of 8.3.

A series of aftershocks followed the quake, the strongest a magnitude 5.9, hit the region shortly afterwards, the USGS said.

The Solomon Islands straddles the so-called "Pacific Ring of Fire," a highly seismically active zone where different plates on the earth's crust meet and create a large number of earthquakes and volcanoes.

A powerful 8.0 magnitude quake in 2013 in a similar area generated a local tsunami that killed at least five people.

(Reporting by Lincoln Feast in Sydney; Editing by David Gregorio and Lisa Shumaker)

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