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Multiple earthquakes hit Russian Pacific islands, no damage reported

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MOSCOW, November 15 (RIA Novosti) - More than 20 earthquakes have been registered in the Kuril Islands area, off Russia's Pacific coast, since Wednesday afternoon, the country's Emergency Situations Ministry said Thursday.

"Twenty-two seismic events measuring up to 5.3 [on the Richter scale] struck 75-275 kilometers (47-171 miles) from Simushir Island between 2:30 p.m. Moscow time (11:30 a.m. GMT) November 15 and 6 a.m. Moscow time (3 a.m. GMT) on the 16th," the ministry said.

An 8.2 magnitude earthquake struck 75 kilometers southeast of Simushir Island at 2:14 p.m. Moscow time (11:14 a.m. GMT) Wednesday, raising fears of an imminent tsunami.

Following the powerful tremor, a tsunami warning was issued for residents of the South Kuril Islands to evacuate coastal areas for higher ground, but the wave skirted the islands and people are now returning to their homes, the ministry said.

"The tsunami threat passed at 4:44 p.m. Moscow time (1:44 p.m. GMT Wednesday. There were no casualties or damage."

Severo-Kurilsk, in the North Kuril Islands, was hit by a smaller quake, measuring three on the Richter scale.

Japan's Meteorological Agency reported earlier Wednesday that earthquake-generated waves, 40 centimeters (16 inches) to two meters (6.5 feet) high as they came ashore, hit the archipelago's northern islands of Honshu and Hokkaido, and warned they could approach Russia's Kurils.

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