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article imageVanuatu is hit by powerful 7.0 magnitude earthquake

By Karen Graham     Apr 28, 2016 in Environment
The South Pacific ocean nation of Vanuatu was hit by a powerful magnitude 7.3 earthquake today, triggering a tsunami warning.
The earthquake struck at 6:33 a.m. local time on Friday, about 5 kilometers (3 miles) southwest of Norsup, which is a village on Malakula island. It struck at a shallow depth of 35 kilometers (21 miles).
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) put the preliminary magnitude at 7.0 on the Richter scale. They said the northern part of the island felt the strongest amount of shaking although there have been no immediate reports of damage or casualties.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, which put the preliminary magnitude at 7.3 before it was downgraded to 7.0, issued a tsunami alert for Vanuatu. "Hazardous tsunami waves from this earthquake are possible within 300 km of the epicenter along the coasts of Vanuatu," it said.
The tsunami warning statement also said that tsunami waves could reach 1 to 3 meters (3.2 to 9.8 feet) above tide levels along Vanuatu coastlines. The warning also applies to Fiji, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and Tuvalu, although heavy or high waves are not expected in those areas.
Computer models estimate the earthquake was felt by 245,000 people across the 80 islands that make up Vanuatu, with approximately 18,000 people feeling "strong" shaking in the early morning hours of the earthquake.
Vanuatu is on the "Pacific ring of fire' an arcing line rimming the Pacific basin that is prone to frequent and sometimes, very large and powerful earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Vanuatu on average is hit by three large earthquakes every year.
The island nation is still recovering from Cyclone Pam which devastated the islands, killing 16 people. In the last 10 days, Vanuatu has been struck by nine earthquakes, ranging from 4.1 to 5.9 in magnitude.
More about Vanuatu, Earthquake, 73 magnitude, tsunami warning, Malakula
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