Sunday, January 9, 2011

Strong 6.9 quake strikes off Vanuatu

Posted: 09 January 2011 2015 hrs

SYDNEY : A strong 6.9-magnitude earthquake struck beneath the sea near the south Pacific island nation of Vanuatu, but no tsunami warning was issued, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said Sunday.

There were no immediate reports of damage from the quake, which hit at 9:03pm (1003 GMT) at a depth of 31.1 kilometres (19.3 miles), 110 kilometres from the town of Isangel on Tanna island, the USGS said.

The quake was the latest in a series of undersea tremors near the island, which is home to an active volcano.

A powerful 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck the area on December 26, triggering a small tsunami exactly six years after giant waves killed 220,000 people around the Indian Ocean, but there were no reports of damage or casualties.

The USGS said that small tsunamis were possible after Sunday's quake in coastal locations that had experienced strong ground shaking, because of underwater landslides.

But the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said that "a destructive Pacific-wide tsunami is not expected".

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

- AFP /ls

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