PORT VILA: A magnitude 6.7 earthquake struck northern Vanuatu today, the US Geological Survey said, with authorities warning that “small tsunami waves” had been picked up by ocean monitoring equipment.
The quake had a depth of 22km, hitting about 300km north of the capital Port Vila at around 3.37pm local time.
Centred near a sparsely populated cluster of islands, the USGS said there was a “low likelihood of casualties and damage” from the tremor.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said people living in coastal Vanuatu areas near the quake’s epicentre “should be observant and exercise normal caution”.
“Otherwise, no action is required,” the centre said.
Vanuatu’s meteorology and geohazards department warned residents in the northern provinces of Penama, Torba, Malampa, and Sanma to take “precautionary measures” such as moving from the coast to higher ground.
A hotel receptionist in Port Olry, some 98km from the epicentre, told AFP she felt a “little earthquake” and “saw the ground shaking” but was not aware of any damage.
Earthquakes are common in Vanuatu, a low-lying archipelago with 320,000 inhabitants that straddles the seismic Ring of Fire.
The Ring of Fire is an arc of intense tectonic activity that stretches through Southeast Asia and across the Pacific basin.
At least seven people were killed in April this year when a 7.0-magnitude quake hit a jungle-clad area in Papua New Guinea.