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Big Earthquake Strikes Off Coast of Vanuatu

by Reuters /  / Updated 

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Officials wound back an initial tsunami threat issued after a large earthquake struck off the coast of the South Pacific islands of Vanuatu on Sunday.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said the danger had largely passed and canceled an earlier warning of a possible tsunami as a result of the quake, which was initially measured at a magnitude of 7.2 but later revised down to 6.9.

The quake was also deemed to be deeper that first thought — 21 miles as opposed to 6, Kanoa Koyanagi, a geophysicist at the PTWC in Hawaii told Reuters.

Koyanagi said experts expected waves of no larger than 30 centimeters, well below tsunami levels, from the quake which struck 151 km north northwest of Vanuatu's Santo island.

"Based on all data available ... the tsunami threat from this earthquake has now mostly passed," the center said in a statement.

The Vanuatu Meteorological Services, a government department, said there were no reports of damage.

Anna Romero, a doctor staying at a hotel near the town of Luganville on Santo told Reuters she felt the tremor, but saw no signs of damage.

Earthquakes are common in the area and even large tremors often cause no tsunamis. A magnitude 7.3 quake struck off Vanuatu in October and a 6.3 quake struck in December without causing any damage.

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