8 Oct 2009

Tsunami warning cancelled - no reports of damage

7:01 pm on 8 October 2009

A tsunami warning has been cancelled after a spate of Pacific quakes.

Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre dropped the warning two hours after it issued an alert for much of the western and central Pacific.

The warning was prompted by a huge subsea quake struck near Vanuatu and eastern Solomon Islands.

The first earthquake was 7.9 and struck near Vanuatu, about 300 kilometres from Santo island at a depth of 35km.

All schools, banks and companies in the Vanuatu capital, Port Vila, closed following tsunami alert.

At about 10 in the morning, there was panic in Port Vila, with a long line of cars and trucks heading to the top of the hills.

In the Fiji capial, Suva, many people moved to higher ground.

There was panic in Samoa following a tsunami warning.

Leilani Momoisea reports.

"The panic was clear to see in one village as groups of women and children rushed up the back roads, scrambling for higher ground. The children yelled at others to follow them up the hill after they received the warning just after 1.30 this afternoon. More followed in pickup trucks, eventually leaving their vehicles on the road and continuing and continuing further up hill on foot. The villagers had experienced last week's tsunami, and say they never want to do so again. In Apia businesses were abandoned and motorists were told to stop speeding and panicking, and to leave their cars on the road. The tsunami warning was officially turned off at 10 past 2 this afternoon by the Samoan meteorological office."

There have been no reports of major damage.