10 Aug 2010

Major quake shakes Vanuatu

10:29 pm on 10 August 2010

Vanuatu's capital Port Vila was shaken by a major earthquake on Tuesday, with residents told to move to higher ground after a small tsunami was generated.

The United States Geological Survey reports the 7.5-magnitude quake occurred at 4.23pm and was centred 40km north-west of the capital at a depth of 35km.

Jason McClelland, a Radio New Zealand employee who was near Port Vila at the time of the quake, says the car he was travelling in slid sideways and there have been a few aftershocks.

Corporal John Fred says only a small tsunami measuring about 27 centimetres was generated by the initial quake. However, many residents remain on higher ground, fearing further aftershocks.

Power and telecommunication lines do not appear to have been affected and there appears to be little structural damage to buildings, he says.

The New Zealand High Commission in Port Vila has sustained some damage, with office fans and ceiling tiles reportedly falling to the floor.

There has been no Pacific-wide warning issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre.