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Island nation Vanuatu struck by South Pacific quake

The Pacific Archipelago of Vanuatu has been shaken by a 7.3-magnitude earthquake. No immediate casualties have been reported but information from the outer islands is still to be obtained.

Director Shadrack Welegtabit of the National Disaster Management Office of Vanuatu said there were no initial reports of damage or injuries. He said on Wednesday he was still awaiting word from outer islands nearer to the epicenter.

The US Geological Survey said Wednesday's quake struck 335 kilometers (207 miles) north of the capital, Port Vila. It was a relatively deep 131 kilometers (81 miles), shielding the surface from the seismic force.

Emergency officials say a tsunami in highly unlikely.

"Based on all available data a destructive Pacific-wide tsunami is not expected," the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said.

Geoscience Australia said the general threshold for an undersea earthquake that could potentially generate a tsunami was a magnitude of 6.5 and a depth of 100 kilometers.

The republic is made up of 80 islands in a chain along the so-called Ring of Fire, an arc of seismic faults around the Pacific Ocean where earthquakes are common.

Vanuatu is

no stranger to natural disasters

. Earlier this year

Cyclone Pam killed more than a dozen people

and displaced thousands.

jar/jm (AP, AFP)

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