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Norway suffers biggest earthquake in its history

An earthquake of 6.2 magnitude — the biggest in Norwegian history — jolted the sparsely populated Svalbard archipelago in the Arctic on Wednesday night, the Norsar seismic research institute said Thursday.
/ Source: Reuters

An earthquake of 6.2 magnitude — the biggest in Norwegian history — jolted the thinly populated Svalbard archipelago in the Arctic on Wednesday night, the Norsar seismic research institute said on Thursday.

Norwegian media reported no one was hurt by the quake and no damaged had been reported in the islands, about 600 miles from the North Pole.

"This is the biggest earthquake on Norwegian territory in history," the institute said in a statement.

"The earthquake happened at sea about 10 km below the surface, and was felt strongly in (the town of) Longyearbyen."

Norsar said it registered several aftershocks, and predicted there would be more.

Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and other leaders will be in Svalbard next week for the official opening of a seed vault which will store frozen crop seeds from round the world in case crops are wiped out by a future disaster.

Last big quake was in 1976
The quake was reported at 0246 GMT on Thursday and its epicenter was about 85 miles southeast of Longyearbyen.

The last big earthquake struck the archipelago, which is roughly the size of Ireland, on Jan. 18, 1976, and measured 5.5 on the Richter scale, the research institute said.

Norway has sovereignty over Svalbard, which lies north of mainland Europe and east of Greenland, in the Arctic Ocean.