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Magnitude-6 Quakes Hit Offshore in Philippines, New Zealand

Earthquakes measuring magnitude-6 or stronger struck near the southern Philippines and New Zealand today, the latest of more than 200 temblors this week along the so-called Rim of Fire.

A magnitude-6.0 quake struck 240 kilometers (150 miles) northeast of Tauranga on New Zealand’s North Island, while a temblor measured at magnitude-6.2 hit 28 kilometers southeast of Caburan on the Philippine island of Mindanao, according to reports on the website of the U.S. Geological Survey.

Today’s offshore quakes presented no tsunami danger, Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology Director Renato Solidum said by telephone today, and no warnings were issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

The Rim of Fire, an arc of tectonic plate interfaces that circle the Pacific Ocean from Chile to New Zealand, experienced 16 earthquakes rated “significant” by the USGS in the past 30 days, according to the agency’s website. The USGS lists seven magnitude-9.0 or greater quakes of “general historic interest” since 856 AD -- all within that arc.

Seismic activity has led to as many as half a million deaths in the region in recent years, including more than 280,000 killed by the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004, 90,000 in a May 2008 quake in China’s Sichuan province, and 20,000 in the wake of Japan’s March 2011 disaster.

New Zealand yesterday agreed to buy 47 properties in the heart of Christchurch as the country’s oldest city begins to rebuild from a February 2011 quake that killed more than 140 people.

One year ago, the Philippines was hit by an earthquake that killed at least 48 people and triggered landslides that left dozens more missing. That magnitude-6.8 quake struck the Negros and Cebu region, damaging bridges and roads and shutting offices, schools and malls.

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