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Magnitude 8.0 Earthquake Hits Santa Cruz Islands, Prompts Tsunami Warning

iStockphoto/Thinkstock('EWA BEACH, Hawaii) -- An 8.0-magnitude earthquake rocked the Santa Cruz Islands, which are part of the Solomon Islands nation of the Pacific. Now, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has issued a tsunami warning for the region nearest the epicenter.  A tsunami watch was issued for further coastlines from the quake, including the Marshall Islands, New Zealand, Australia and Indonesia.

"Just to be precautionary, the people with the warning should definitely be staying away from the coast. The people in the watch [areas] should be in the process of preparing to get out of, away from the coast," Barry Hirshorn of the Pacific Tsunami Center tells ABC News Radio.

Though Fiji is in the warning area, Hirshorn says the island, along with Hawaii, will likely not be affected by the wave.

"Australia might see a small wave, but the largest wave we've seen so far is only about a meter and that's right near the earthquake," he says.

The tsunami is not expected to be damaging for the whole region, Hirshorn says, adding, "It's gonna be primarily restricted to the areas close to where the earthquake happened."

While there are no immediate reports on fatalities or damage, Bruce Presgrave of the U.S. Geological Survey said the earthquake's location could mean that fewer people might be affected.

"A magnitude 8.0 in a populated area can produce sever damage and casualties. However, fortunately this earthquake is a very sparsely populated area," he said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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