10 Aug 2010

Residents of Vanuatu capital remain on higher ground after large quake

9:17 pm on 10 August 2010

Reports from Vanuatu's capital Port Vila indicate many residents remain on higher ground as aftershocks continue following a magnitude 7.5 earthquake at around 4:30pm local time.

Geoscience Australia reports that the quake, centred around 40-kilometres north-west of the main island of Efate, struck at a depth of 60 kilometres and generated a 23 centimetre wave which hit Vila's shores.

There was no Pacific-wide warning issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre.

Reports from Vila indicate the quake shook goods off shelves, forcing many shops in town to close early, but there were no immediate reports of major structural damage.

Residents say people in the capital quickly fled to higher ground where many remain following a series of aftershocks in the three hours since the 7.5 quake.

Our correspondent Hilaire Bule says the quake was quite violent but only lasted less than half a minute.

"We still have a warning from radio to stay away from the coastal area. As far as I'm talking to you, there have only been minor damages. But people are still in shock and it will be probably tomorrow when we'll have a clearer estimation on the damages."

Meanwhile, the powerful quake was felt in some of Vanuatu's other islands further north.

Power and telecommunication lines do not appear to have been affected.