Strong earthquake strikes central Australia, no damage

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The central region of Australia was struck by the country's largest earthquake in nearly 15 years on Friday evening, seismologists said, but there were no reports of damage or casualties.

The 6.1-magnitude earthquake at 7:55 p.m. local time (0925 GMT) on Friday was centered about 27.4 kilometers (17 miles) northwest of Ernabella Airport, a tiny airstrip near the border with South Australia and the Northern Territory. It struck about 3 kilometers (1.8 mile) deep, making it a shallow earthquake, according to Geoscience Australia.

The region near Ernabella is home to hundreds of indigenous Australians, but police said there were no reports of injuries or damage. The United States Geological Survey (USGS), which measured the strength of the earthquake at 5.6 on the body wave magnitude (Mb) scale, estimated that some 5,000 people in the sparsely populated region may have felt the quake.

Friday's earthquake was the largest to hit mainland Australia since August 1997, when a 6.3-magnitude earthquake was recorded off Collier Bay on West Australia's far north coast. It was widely felt but no serious damage was reported, and there were no injuries.

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