A 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu late Sunday, sending terrified villagers fleeing for higher ground amid fears of a tsunami.
The epicenter of the powerful quake was in the sea off the northern bay of Espiritu Santo, the largest island, about 400 kilometers (250 miles) north of the archipelago’s capital, Port Vila.
Kayson Pore, a 22-year-old student from Hog Harbor Village in Espiritu Santo, said he was on the beach looking for crabs with six friends when the quake struck.
“It’s very big,” Poley told AFP by phone.
“We’re out at sea, we’re looking for crabs by the sea,” he said
“We ran for our lives and ran home.”
At his home in the village of about 1,000 people, the quake knocked objects to the ground and shattered cups in the kitchen, Pore said.
“People are moving to higher ground,” he added, because of concerns about tsunami tides.
But Pore said he saw no structural damage to homes in the village.
The shallow quake struck at around 11:30 p.m. local time (1230 GMT) at a depth of about 27 kilometers (17 miles) from Espiritu Santo in Porto Orly, according to the US Geological Survey. The village is about 25 km.
Natasha Joel, a receptionist at the Capital Hotel and Casino, said the quake was felt as far away as Port Vila on the island of Etafe.
However, she said the shaking there was “a bit small” and no guests were evacuated from the hotel.
A tsunami warning was initially issued for Vanuatu, New Caledonia and the Solomon Islands, but was canceled about an hour and a half after the quake.
‘A big one! ‘
“Tsunami waves 0.3 to 1 meter above tide level are possible on some coasts of Vanuatu,” said the NWS Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii.
It added that New Caledonia and the Solomon Islands could experience waves of less than 0.3 metres.
The French embassy in Vanuatu posted on its official Facebook page advising people to stay away from the coast.
Residents reported damage on social media.
“A big one!!” one person posted on Facebook. “There’s a lot of broken stuff around.”
New Zealand’s National Emergency Management Agency said there was no tsunami threat to the country.
Vanuatu is part of the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, where tectonic plates collide and experience frequent earthquakes and volcanic activity.
The Solomon Islands, an island nation north of Vanuatu, was hit by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake in November, but no casualties or major structural damage were reported.
In 2018, a 7.5-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi left more than 4,300 people dead or missing.
According to the annual World Risk Report, Vanuatu is listed as one of the countries most prone to natural disasters such as earthquakes, storm damage, floods and tsunamis.
(Aside from the title, this story is unedited by NDTV staff and published via a syndicated feed.)
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