SYDNEY, Australia (AP) _ A major earthquake hit a remote region of the Pacific Ocean near the Solomon Islands on Sunday, seismologists said. There were no reports of injuries or damage.

The earthquake, with a preliminary magnitude of 7.3, struck Sunday morning near the Santa Cruz group of islands, the U.S. Geological Survey in Reston, Va., said.

The epicenter was about 180 miles north of Santo Benuatu Island and about 1,330 miles north of Brisbane, Australia. The quake occurred 55 miles beneath the seabed.

A magnitude-7 temblor is a major earthquake capable of widespread, heavy damage if it hits a populated area.

A similar quake that shook the region in 1987 caused no damage.

The Santa Cruz islands are the easternmost islands in the Solomon Islands archipelago of several hundred islands stretching 870 miles between Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu.