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REGION SEA OF OKHOTSK, RUSSIA
The first damage and injury reports are coming in from Russia's Far East, where a major earthquake struck Friday.
The U.S. Geological Survey and Japan's Meteorological Agency put the magnitude at 7.7.
A second quake measuring 6.1 struck five hours later.
One official who spoke to The Associated Press after the first quake says there are reports of damage in some villages as well as minor injuries.
Another official says telephone service has been cut off and that helicopters have been dispatched to the region to survey the situation.
Some 1,200 people live in the area where the quake hit, more than four-thousand miles east of Moscow.
Russian news agencies say there has been damage to a school and a hospital as well as utilities.
An earthquake of 7.7 magnitude has rattled villages on Russia's remote Kamchatka Peninsula but there were no immediate reports of serious injury.
The tremor struck at around 1230 (2330 GMT Thursday) in an area 1,000km (625 miles) north of Kamchatka's largest city, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky.
A school, two nurseries, a hospital and a runway were damaged in one village where power supplies were also hit.
US geologists say it was the strongest quake in the area since 1900.
The scientists also discussed the possibility that underground phenomena caused the catastrophe.
"There is a certain phenomenon known as an 'earthquake fire,'" said Olkhovatov. "It is a strange glowing that gives way in seismically active regions. It can also take on various forms, including flying balls of fire. Taiga inhabitants saw them June 30, 1908. And the 100-year-old catastrophe occurred during a period of increased seismic activity. So the Tunguska meteoroid may have actually 'flown' from underground and not from the sky."