August 10, 2010 by USA Post 

Vanuatu, AFP – SYDNEY – A major earthquake of 7.5 magnitude shook the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu on Tuesday, generating a small tsunami and sending thousands of frightened people running to the hills.

The undersea earthquake, 35 kilometers (22 miles) deep and only 40 of the capital Port Vila, shook buildings in the city for about 15 seconds, but do not appear to have caused significant damage.

Foreign tourists from the hotel and some residents scrambled to higher ground in case of a tsunami, local people said, as police sirens sounded to warn people to evacuate.

“We have no damage. But we have evacuated our guests to the top of the hill to be safe, although we have not received any tsunami warning yet,” said Rowan Lulu hotel employee told AFP.

“Many people are fleeing to higher ground in the city as a precautionary measure, but as far as I know there is no major damage Vila, things just fall from the shelves,” he said.

“What was very clear,” said another hotel employee.

Witnesses said people working in the tallest buildings in the capital were also evacuated, while the powerful earthquake was felt in other islands further north.

“People are moving to higher ground,” said resident Steve Ayong-Nirua AFP.

“There was a radio call asking motorists to drive slowly in case of aftershocks,” he added.

The Tsunami Warning Center said a Pacific tsunami of 23 centimeters (9.2 inches) hit Port Vila, but warned of bigger waves can be seen in other areas.

“The largest wave amplitudes can still be seen along coasts near the earthquake epicenter,” the center said.

Vanuatu, which lies between Fiji and Australia and north of New Zealand, is located in the Ring of Fire “known for its high volcanic and seismic activity caused by friction between the plates are moving in the earth’s crust.

In May, a 7.2 earthquake triggered a brief tsunami warning, and at least three earthquakes measuring 6.0 or stronger have affected the archipelago since early July.

The country was hit by three major earthquakes in October, while a giant plume of volcanic ash disrupted domestic flights in neighboring New Caledonia in recent months.

U.S. Geological Survey measured the quake at 7.5 Finally, while Geoscience Australia said it was 7.6 at a depth of 60 kilometers.

Pacific Center said no tsunami caused widespread, while New Zealand scientists believe that the country was not under any threat of destructive waves.

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