7.0-magnitude quake strikes Pacific nation of Vanuatu

A 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck just off the coast from the Pacific nation of Vanuatu late Sunday, the US Geological Survey said, triggering a tsunami warning for the region.

The shallow quake hit around 11:30 pm local time (1230 GMT) around 27 kilometers (17 miles) deep, said the USGS, which placed it about 25 kilometers from the village of Port-Olry.

A tsunami warning was issued for Vanuatu, New Caledonia and the Solomon Islands but was later canceled about an hour and a half after the quake.

“Tsunami waves reaching 0.3 to one meter above the tide level are possible for some coasts of Vanuatu,” the NWS Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre in Hawaii said.

Waves smaller than 0.3 meters were possible for New Caledonia and the Solomon Islands, it added.

The French embassy in Vanuatu advised people to stay away from the coasts in a post on Facebook.

Residents reported on social media that there had been damage.

“A Big One!!” one person posted on Facebook. “Lots of things broken all around.”

New Zealand’s National Emergency Management Agency said there was no tsunami threat to its country.

Vanuatu is part of the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, where tectonic plates collide, and experiences frequent seismic and volcanic activity.

The Solomon Islands, an island nation just north of Vanuatu, was hit in November with a 7.0-magnitude quake, though there were no reports of serious injuries or major structural damage.

In 2018, a 7.5-magnitude quake and subsequent tsunami on Indonesia’s Sulawesi island left more than 4,300 people dead or missing.

Vanuatu is ranked as one of the most susceptible countries to natural disasters like earthquakes, storm damage, flooding and tsunamis, according to the annual World Risk Report.

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