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Quake sparks tsunami alert

Friday 29 April 2016 | Published in Regional

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VANUATU – A tsunami warning issued after a shallow magnitude-7.0 earthquake struck Vanuatu was cancelled by mid-morning yesterday.

At the time of going to press there had been no reports of damage caused by the earthquake.

The quake was 35km deep and hit shortly after 9.30am, yesterday Cook Islands time– 6.30am local time. It had a preliminary magnitude of 7.3, but that was later revised to 7.0.

There was no threat from tsunami waves to other Pacific islands, the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management said.

However, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre earlier said waves of between one and three metres above the tide level were possible along some coasts of Vanuatu.

Any waves affecting Fiji, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu were forecast to be under 30cm.

The earthquake was centred on land about five kilometres southwest of Norsup, which is a village on Malakula island.

Computer models from the USGS estimated that some 245,000 people across various islands may have felt the early-morning earthquake, including an estimated 18,000 people who may have perceived “strong” shaking.

However, a spokesman at Vanuatu’s Bauerfield International Airport in Port Vila said the quake did not feel major.

“It was just a small one,” he said.

The quake had not disrupted flights and the spokesman said he was not aware of any damage.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, which initially put the preliminary magnitude at 7.3 before it was downgraded to 7.0, issued a tsunami alert for Vanuatu.

“Hazardous tsunami waves from this earthquake are possible within 300km of the epicenter along the coasts of Vanuatu,” it said.

There have been 43 earthquakes ranging from 4.9 to the latest at 7.0 in the Vanuatu region in the last month and 295 earthquakes recorded in the past year. - PNC sources