Two strong earthquakes, one of magnitude 6.2, struck near Sakhalin Island in eastern Russia today, the U.S. Geological Survey said. Two people were killed and Japan's government said a small tsunami hit Hokkaido.

The first, stronger quake struck 81 kilometers (50 miles) west of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk on Sakhalin and 205 kilometers north of Wakkanai in Hokkaido at 1:37 p.m. local time, the USGS said on its Web site. The quake's depth was 5 kilometers. The second quake, of magnitude 6.1, occurred at 4:22 p.m. eastern Russian time in the same area with a depth of 21 kilometers.

Two people died and 10 were injured in the south of Sakhalin, Russia's state-run Ria Novosti news service said.

In Japan, two tsunami waves hit northwestern Hokkaido, one 20 centimeters (8 inches) high and one 10 centimeters, national broadcaster NHK Television said. There were no reports of injuries or damage. NHK said the magnitude of the first quake was 6.4 and the second was 5.9.

The government's tsunami alert was lifted at about 2:30 p.m. Japan time.

There were at least four other tremors of magnitude 5.3 or less in the area, the USGS said.

Sakhalin Island lies in a zone where the Eurasian and Pacific plates meet. These tectonic plates constantly shift, sometimes causing earthquakes, some of them resulting in tsunamis. Quakes of magnitude 5 or more can cause considerable damage depending on their depth.