1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Vanuatu gets back-to-back earthquakes, cyclone

March 3, 2023

The Pacific nation experienced an initial 6.5 magnitude quake, followed by an aftershock. A state of emergency has been declared amid the threat of Cyclone Kevin.

Heavy rain comes down as cyclone Judy hits Port Vila, Vanuatu
Vanuatu lies in the Pacific's "Ring of Fire"Image: Twitter/NingZhouVanuatu/via REUTERS

The Pacific nation of Vanuatu experienced back-to-back earthquakes and cyclones on Friday. No casualties were immediately reported.

A 6.5-magnitude quake initially struck at 1804 GMT off the island of Espiritu Santo in the north of the archipelago, the US Geological Survey said. There was an aftershock of magnitude 5.4.

A state of emergency was declared due to the added threat of Cyclone Kevin, government spokesperson Joe Harry told the AFP news agency.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there was no tsunami threat from the initial quake.

Strong winds, power cuts

After the initial quake, there were reports of strong winds tearing roofs from buildings and uprooting trees. Just a couple of days ago, strong winds and rain from Cyclone Judy had lashed Vanuatu. Electricity and communications in the island nation are still affected.

"People on (Espiritu) Santo felt the earthquake, but couldn't go outside to assess the damage because of the high winds," Dickinson Tevi, secretary general of the Vanuatu Red Cross Society, told AFP from the capital, Port Vila. 

He added that parts of the capital had been without power for two days.

"Once the winds have died, we will assess the situation, but there is likely to be significant damage as Cyclone Judy had already damaged many structures," he said.

The nation of 320,000 lies in the Pacific "Ring of Fire," where tectonic plates collide and which experiences frequent seismic and volcanic activity. It is one of the most susceptible countries to earthquakes, storms, flooding and tsunami, according to the annual World Risk Report.

tg/sms  (AFP, Reuters)