7.1 earthquake strikes near Vanuatu

Last updated 21:29 10/05/2011

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A strong 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck off the Pacific islands of Vanuatu and New Caledonia On Tuesday, the US Geological Survey said, but there were no immediate reports of damage and a local official said that a tsunami was not expected.

The quake's epicentre was 136 km southwest of Isangel in Vanuatu and 147 km north-east of Tadine, in the Loyalty Islands, New Caledonia, the USGS said in a bulletin. The quake was 26 km deep.

"Based on all of the local analytical data, a tsunami is not expected within Vanuatu," an official for the Vanuatu Meteorological Services told Reuters by telephone from the capital, Port Vila.

A receptionist at a hotel in Ouvea in the Loyalty Islands said there was no immediate sign of damage.

"It was not a particularly strong tremor but we definitely felt it. There was no breakage, no damage," the receptionist at the Hotel Paradis d'Ouvea said.

A large contingent of New Zealand Defence Force personnel are on Espiritu Santo, near the earthquake's epicentre.

The Navy's multirole ship HMNZS Canterbury is in the region serving in the "Pacific Partnership" civil aid operation.

It has been at the port of Luganville with the amphibious transport dock ship USS Cleveland, the Australian heavy landing craft  HMAS Balikpapan and HMAS Betano.

New Zealand Army personnel are also with the mission.

There have been no reports of injury from the New Zealanders.

- Stuff and Reuters

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