Moderate earthquake hits Vanuatu: USGS | world | Hindustan Times
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Moderate earthquake hits Vanuatu: USGS

world Updated: Jul 27, 2009 10:43 IST

A moderate 5.7-magnitude earthquake hit the Pacific nation of Vanuatu on Monday, shaking buildings and scaring tourists but causing no significant damage.

The US Geological Survey said the undersea quake struck 67 kilometres west of the capital Port Vila at a depth of 51 kilometres. It initially put the magnitude at 6.2.

A policeman in Port Vila told AFP that there had been no reports of injury or serious damage, and the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center based in Hawaii did not issue a tsunami alert.

Witnesses said the ground shook heavily for about 10 seconds just after 10:00 am (local time), hurling items off shelves and raising fears buildings would collapse.

"It started slowly but became more and more intense as it went along," said New Zealand tourist Caroline Marsh, who was having breakfast in her Port Vila hotel when the quake struck.

"It was a low rumbling, almost a growling, that seemed to shake the building from its foundations. It was really quite scary because for a while we worried that it would keep on gathering strength and bring the building down."

Vanuatu sits on the 'Pacific Ring of Fire', where a meeting of continental plates causes high volcanic and seismic activity.

The country, which has a population of 215,000, was hit by two powerful earthquakes last month, including one measuring 6.5 on June 2.