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Major earthquake in South Pacific does not pose tsunami threat

  • A major earthquake struck off the coast of Vanuatu today. (U.S. Geological Survey)

The South Pacific nation of Vanuatu was shaken Wednesday by a magnitude-7.3 earthquake, but there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

The preliminary magnitude 7.3 earthquake struck at 11:52 a.m. Hawaii time 21 miles northeast of Port-Olry, Vanuatu at a depth of 81.4 miles, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Officials at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there was no tsunami threat to Hawaii or the Pacific region because the earthquake struck too deep inside the Earth.

Shadrack Welegtabit, the director of Vanuatu’s National Disaster Management Office, said there were no initial reports of damage or injuries but he was still awaiting information from some of the outer islands closer to the epicenter.

He said people in the capital felt the quake as heavy and slow-moving, but it wasn’t strong enough there to knock items off shelves.

Vanuatu sits on the Ring of Fire, the arc of seismic faults around the Pacific Ocean where earthquakes are common. The nation is also prone to volcanoes and cyclones, and was ranked by the United Nations University as the world’s most at-risk nation for natural disasters.

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