Earthquake strikes near Vanuatu

Kiwis living in Vanuatu have described feeling a “strong but not severe” earthquake – but say there is no immediate reports of injury or damage.The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said tsunami waves were possible for coasts within 300km of the epicentre following the 7.2 quake. It was centered about 81km northwest of Port-Olry, a town in the Sanma province on the island of Espiritu Santo.Since then the quake has been downgraded to 6.9 and the PTWC said the threat of a tsunami has now largely passed and there is no concern in New Zealand.

New Zealander Craig Arlidge, who manages Moyyan House by the Sea on the island of Espiritu Santo, said he “felt the wall shake for about five seconds” and water sloshed about in the rain water tank.He said his wife was reading a book and jumped out of bed.Owner of Barrier Beach House on Espiritu Santo Calvin Rhodes said the quake felt “strong but not severe”.

“We’re in a concrete house; everything was shaking,” he said.”The guests were all sitting down for dinner but everyone was fine. Nothing went flying and there wasn’t any damage.”Vanuatu sits on the Ring of Fire, the arc of seismic faults around the Pacific Ocean where earthquakes are common. The nation is also prone to volcanoes and cyclones, and has been ranked by the United Nations University as the world’s most at-risk nation for natural disasters.

Last March Port-Vila was devastated by Cyclone Pam.The category 5 cyclone tore through the Pacific Island nation, severely damaging the capital and entirely wiping out some villages.In October a 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck near Vanuatu.About 16,990 people live within 100km of where the quake struck, according to the Global Disaster Alert and Co-ordination Centre.


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