VANCOUVER - Seismologists warned that a "catastrophic" earthquake could strike the southwestern coast of British Columbia soon, Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper reported Saturday.

The experts noted rumblings from deep beneath the Pacific Ocean, along Vancouver Island, which could foretell a giant quake. But they said the probability of a quake was still low.

"Everyone drives their car every day, and the probability of getting in a car accident is small" although it rises during rush hour, Garry Rogers, a seismologist at the Pacific Geoscience Centre on Vancouver Island, told the Globe and Mail.

"Well, Vancouver Island is now driving in rush hour," he said.

The newspaper said the activity, known to scientists as episodic tremor and slip, emanates from the crush of the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate beneath the North American Plate, which is Canada's shoreline.

The Juan de Fuca plate runs from Vancouver Island on Canada's West Coast south to Northern California in the United States.

02/03/2007 18:59 GMT

Copyright © 2007