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Powerful earthquake off El Salvador generates small tsunami

SAN SALVADOR, EL SALVADOR (BNO NEWS) -- A powerful earthquake struck off the coast of El Salvador on late Sunday evening, generating a small tsunami but causing no damage or casualties, authorities said on Monday. It was followed by a series of small aftershocks.

The 7.3-magnitude earthquake at 22:37 p.m. local time (0437 GMT Monday) was centered about 111 kilometers (69 miles) south of the city of Puerto El Triunfo in the country's Usulután Department. It struck about 20.3 kilometers (12.6 miles) deep, making it a shallow earthquake, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center initially said there was no threat of a tsunami, but about 15 minutes later it decided to issue a tsunami warning for Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Panama and Mexico. It was canceled about 1.5 hour later after only a small tsunami was observed.

"Sea level readings indicate a tsunami was generated," the center said in a statement. It said a small 10-centimeter (3.94-inch) tsunami wave, relative to normal sea level, was registered off the port city of Acajutla. Smaller tsunami waves were also observed in La Unión and Dart, but no damage or casualties were reported.

The USGS estimated based on computer models that some 233,000 people along the coast of El Salvador may have felt moderate shaking, which would unlikely result in serious damage. It said more than 12 million others living further away from the epicenter may have felt light shaking, but very few people reported feeling the tremor.

El Salvador is on the so-called 'Pacific Ring of Fire', an arc of fault lines circling the Pacific Basin that is prone to frequent and large earthquakes. A powerful 7.7-magnitude earthquake struck about 30 kilometers (18 miles) south of Puerto El Triunfo in January 2001, killing at least 844 people and injuring more than 4,700 others.

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