Strong earthquake hits the South Pacific Ocean, southwest of VanuatuMay 11th, 2011 - 3:26 am ICT by BNO News
ISANGEL (BNO NEWS) — A strong earthquake struck the South Pacific Ocean on early Tuesday evening, seismologists said, but there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties.
The 6.8-magnitude earthquake at 7.55 p.m. local time (0855 GMT) was centered about 131 kilometers (81 miles) southwest of Isangel, a city on the Vanuatu island of Tanna. It struck about 14.9 kilometers (9.3 miles) deep, making it a shallow earthquake, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).
The USGS initially measured the strength of the earthquake at 7.1 on the Richter scale, but later downgraded it to 6.8 after more data became available. The agency estimated that some 55,000 people may have perceived moderate shaking, which could result in light damage.
However, there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties and the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there was no threat of a tsunami. “No destructive widespread tsunami threat exists based on historical earthquake and tsunami data,” the agency said in a bulletin.
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, generating a large tsunami. The earthquake and the resulting tsunami left at least 14,949 people killed and around 10,000 others remain missing.
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, also on the Pacific Ring of Fire. 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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