11 Aug 2010

Buildings to be checked in wake of Vanuatu quake

8:48 am on 11 August 2010

Large buildings in Vanuatu will be checked to see if they are still stable after Tuesday's 7.5-magnitude earthquake, New Zealand's High Commissioner says.

The quake occurred at 4.23pm and was centred 40km north-west of the capital at a depth of 35km.

Aftershocks were still being felt on Wednesday, and police say that while most people have returned home after the quake, some are too frightened to do so and remain on higher ground.

New Zealand High Commissioner Jeff Langley says the shake was very dramatic and lasted about 30 seconds, but it appears the country has been reasonably lucky as no major damage has been reported.

However the quake caused a lot of superficial damage, he says, such as cracks to walls.

The New Zealand High Commission's office in the capital Port Vila suffered minor damage, with pictures falling off walls and objects falling off shelves, he says.

Mr Langley understands the 300 - 500 New Zealanders living or holidaying in Vanuatu are safe.

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.