Major 7.6 earthquake, tsunami hit Pacific’s Vanuatu

A major 7.5-magnitude earthquake hit the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu on Tuesday.

Last Updated: Aug 10, 2010, 16:06 PM IST

Sydney: A major 7.5-magnitude earthquake hit
the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu on Tuesday, generating a small
tsunami and sending thousands of frightened people running for
the hills.

The undersea quake, 35 kilometres deep and just 40
kilometres from the capital Port Vila, shook buildings in the
city for about 15 seconds, but did not appear to have caused
significant damage.

Foreign hotel guests and some residents raced to higher
ground in case of a possible tsunami, locals said, while
police sounded sirens to warn people to evacuate.

"We don`t have any damage. But we have evacuated our
guests to the top of the hill just to be safe, although we
have not received any tsunami warning yet," hotel employee
Rowan Lulu told AFP.

"A lot of people are evacuating to higher ground in the
city as a precaution but as far as I know there is no major
damage in Vila, just things falling off shelves," he said.

"We felt it very strongly," another hotel employee said.
Witnesses said people working in the capital`s tallest
buildings were also evacuated, while the powerful quake was
felt in the archipelago`s other islands further north.

"People were moving to higher ground," resident Steve
Ayong-Nirua told AFP.

"There was a call on the radio calling on drivers to
drive slowly in case of aftershocks," he added.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said a 23-centimetre
tsunami hit Port Vila, but warned bigger waves may be seen in
other areas.

"Higher wave amplitudes may yet be observed along coasts
near the earthquake epicentre," the Center said.

Vanuatu, which lies between Fiji and Australia and north
of New Zealand, is in the "Pacific Ring of Fire" known for its
high seismic and volcanic activity caused by friction between
moving plates in the Earth`s crust.

PTI