Quake hits off Russia's Kuril Islands, prompts tsunami alert

Map showing Russia's Kuril Islands, hit by a 7.5-magnitude quake on Wednesday

A 7.2-magnitude quake hit off Russia's Kuril Islands on Wednesday, prompting local residents to seek higher ground due to a tsunami threat, authorities said.

The Russian emergencies ministry said the quake's epicentre was 210 kilometers (130 miles) southeast of Severo-Kurilsk, a town of around 2,500 people on the Kuril island of Paramushir.

Officials reported no casualties or damage but said residents of Severo-Kurilsk were taken to higher ground.

The emergencies ministry reported a small tsunami with a wave of about 50 centimetres (1.6 feet) high.

The ministry said area residents would remain in a safe place for now as the threat of a tsunami remained.

"People's safety for us is the most important thing," Sakhalin governor Valery Limarenko was quoted as saying.

The US Geological Survey for its part estimated the strength of the quake at 7.5 magnitude.

The quake hit at a depth of 59 kilometres (37 miles), around 1,400 kilometres (around 850 miles) northeast of the Japanese city of Sapporo, USGS added.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said "only very small tsunami waves were generated by this earthquake and there is no further threat".

The four southernmost islands of the Kuril chain have been disputed between Moscow and Tokyo since the end of World War II.

The Kurils are known as the Northern Territories in Japan.

Map showing Russia's Kuril Islands, hit by a 7.5-magnitude quake on Wednesday.