Vanuatu Earthquake, Tsunami Spur Panic

A 7.5-magnitude earthquake struck the South Pacific island of Vanuatu on Tuesday, instigating panic among residents, who immediately sought higher ground for fear of tsunami.

Their fear proved accurate as the quake indeed produced a tsunami, which was seen off the small nation’s capital of Port Vila. However, the tsunami measured only 9 inches and failed to produce any damaging effect. The country’s government has not reported any major damages or casualties from the quake, which a police officer described as the “worst I have felt in my life.”

The New Zealand High Commission located on the island nation was reportedly damaged, while computers inside the four-story building were “thrown across the office” by the quake, according to diplomat Ben McKenzie. “It was quite a significant earthquake, and we’re still having a few aftershocks,” McKenzie told the Associated Press.

Vanuatu is frequently hit by earthquakes and is prone to tsunamis as it lies within the Pacific Ring of Fire, a stretch of volcanic zone where 90 percent of the world’s temblors occur.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.