Strong earthquake hits the South Pacific Ocean, east of Vanuatu

July 31st, 2011 - 10:24 pm ICT by BNO News  

ISANGEL (BNO NEWS) — A strong earthquake struck the South Pacific Ocean on early Monday morning, seismologists said, but no damage was expected and no tsunami alert was issued.

The 6.1-magnitude earthquake at 1.34 a.m. local time (1435 GMT Sunday) was centered about 363 kilometers (226 miles) east-northeast of Port Vila, which is situated on the island of Efate and is the capital of Vanuatu. It struck about 19.4 kilometers (12.1 miles) deep, making it a shallow earthquake, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties, and the USGS estimated that there was only a small possibility that no more than 35,000 people may have felt very light shaking. It would not result in damage.

Vanuatu is on the so-called ‘Pacific Ring of Fire’, an arc of fault lines circling the Pacific Basin that is prone to frequent and large earthquakes. Volcanic eruptions also occur frequently in the region.

Most recently, on March 11, an enormous 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of northeastern Japan, which is also on the Pacific Ring of Fire. The earthquake and a resulting tsunami left more than 15,600 people killed and more than 5,000 others missing.

And before that, on October 25, a powerful 7.7-magnitude earthquake struck just off the Mentawai Islands off the western coast of Sumatra in Indonesia. As a result, a wall of water killed at least 435 people on the islands and impacted more than 20 villages.

On December 26, 2004, one of the most powerful earthquakes ever recorded struck off the west coast of Sumatra. The 9.1-magnitude earthquake unleashed a deadly tsunami, striking scores of countries. In all, at least 227,898 people were killed.

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