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Fresh earthquake aftershocks shake Vanuatu

world Updated: Mar 26, 2007 11:20 IST

AP
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Two fresh earthquake aftershocks, one of magnitude 5.5, have hit Vanuatu after two powerful tremblors shook the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu on Sunday, but police said no injuries or damage were immediately reported.

The magnitude 5.5 aftershock occurred at 8:57 am local time Monday, the US Geological Survey reported on its web site.

The quake was located 150 kilometers (95 miles) south of Vanautu's volcanic island of Tanna _ the same general area as the magnitude 5.2 after shock that rocked the area at 9:37 pm local time on Sunday.

Two earlier quakes, one of magnitude 7.3 and one of magnitude 6.0 that followed 28 minutes later, sparked a tsunami alert for the nation's southern islands _ but it passed without incident. Australia's Emergency Management Office had initially warned that the quakes could generate a tsunami affecting Vanuatu's outlying islands, a police spokesman said.

"There is no ... tsunami reported from the southern part of Vanuatu," police deputy commissioner, Lieut Col Arthur Caulton told The Associated Press, adding that the time for a tsunami was "well over."

Earlier, emergency officials had moved coastal residents to higher ground.

"There are no reports of injury or damage" from the quakes, felt throughout Vanuatu's southern islands, Caulton said. The 7.3 earthquake struck at 11:40 am and was followed 28 minutes later by the second.

"We experienced a little bit of movement (in the capital, Port Vila), but not as destructive as might be expected," police captain Arnold Giro said earlier.

The stronger quake was centered 335 kilometers (210 miles) southeast of Port Vila, but only 115 kilometers (75 miles) south of the small volcanic island of Tanna. It was 7.5 kilometers (4.7 miles) beneath the earth surface.

The smaller quake's epicenter was 355 kilometers (220 miles) southeast of Port Vila and 140 kilometers (85 miles) south of Tanna, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It was centered 11 kilometers (6.9 miles) below the surface.

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