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Earthquake sparks tsunami off Vanuatu

A small tsunami was generated off Vanuatu after a powerful 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck off the South Pacific island, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said today.

The 220mm wave was observed off Port Vila.

The Hawaii-based warning centre said there was no tsunami threat for other coastal areas in the Pacific.

The US Geological Survey said the earthquake hit about 40km north west of Port Vila at a depth of 35km.

“It was quite a significant earthquake, and we’re still having a few aftershocks,” Ben McKenzie, of the New Zealand High Commission, told The Associated Press by phone from Port Vila.

The four-storey office building housing the New Zealand High Commission suffered some damage, said McKenzie, First Secretary at the New Zealand diplomatic post.

Office shelves and ceiling tiles fell down and computers were “thrown across the office” by the jolt, he said.

“We’re trying to ensure everybody is safe and we’re evacuating the building” to check that it is not “structurally damaged”, he added.

Telephone lines in Port Vila were cut by the quake, and there were several power outages, McKenzie said.

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