2 Aug 2007

Shops and schools closed on Santo in Vanuatu following earthquake

3:51 pm on 2 August 2007

Shops and schools have been closed on the Vanuatu island of Santo following a powerful earthquake which sent residents fleeing from their houses early this morning.

The 7.2 magnitude quake struck at about 4am local time, cutting power and water, and damaging roads, bridges and many buildings in the main town of Luganville.

Police say power is now back on but schools without a water supply are shut down.

There was only one report of an injury which occurred as a policeman fell while trying to flee police headquarters.

A local journalist, Pensly Sumbe, describes what happened.

"I was lying in bed and I can hear the roof moving of the house moving and I can hear the walls moving, and also I can hear people screaming and then when I wake up, I know that there was an earthquake but it's still shaking and suddenly the lights went out."

Mr Sumbe says people gathered outside in the dark and some fled to higher ground but most have returned home and the clean up has begun.