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South Pacific

Powerful earthquake hits South Pacific

Map showing the previous earthquakes that hit near Vanuatu in October 2009.
Map showing the previous earthquakes that hit near Vanuatu in October 2009. Nasa Earth Observatory

A 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck off the South Pacific archipelago of Vanuatu on Friday, followed by several aftershocks. The quake triggered a tsunami warning across the South Pacific, but the alert has since been cancelled.


The earthquake hit at 4.14 am. The epicentre, at a depth of at a depth of 36 kilometres, was 214 kilometres northwest of Luganville, or 2,070 kilometres northeast of Brisbane, Australia, according to the US Geological Survey.

In the six hours after the initial tremor, five aftershocks measuring between 5.0 and 6.4 in magnitude followed.

Vanuatu's National Disaster Management Office has not yet received any reports of major damage from the remote northern Torba province closest to the quake's centre, a spokesperson said.

After issuing a tsunami warning for areas of the South Pacific including Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands and New Caledonia, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said there had been no indication of any tsunami activity generated by the quake.

In October last year, three major quakes all measuring over 7 on the Richter scale hit the same region of Vanuatu, sparking a South Pacific-wide tsunami alert.

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