28 May 2010

Pacific Tsunami warning now cancelled

8:49 am on 28 May 2010

A tsunami warning for Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and New Caledonia has now been cancelled.

The warning by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center was issued after a seven point two magnitude earthquake near Vanuatu.

The earthquake struck off the north-west coast of Vanuatu at about quarter past five this morning.

The US Geological Survey says the quake was at a depth of 36 kilometres, 215 kilometres away from Vanuatu's second biggest settlement, Luganville.

The duty physicist at the Tsunami Warning Center Barry Hirshorn says there had been concern there could be a tsunami for a restricted area.

But he says the earthquake now appears to have been smaller than expected.

"Well every quake is different but this appears to be what is not what they call one of these tsunami earthquakes, that are actually more powerful because of slower rupture. It really is in the sevens, in fact now we've downgraded our magnitude to a 7.2."

Barry Hirshorn says coastal sea level gauges show there was no tsunami, including one in the harbour at Port Villa.

Meanwhile, the police in Luganville say there appears to have been no damage from this morning's earthquake.

The police say the earthquake was quite strong and woke most people up.

But Senior Sergeant Iaken Amben says no damage was spotted during an assessment of the town, and no damage reports have come in.

He says they didn't receive a tsunami warning, although the meterological department rang earlier to say one could be issued.

He says there were no evacuations and its business as normal in the town.