WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) - An earthquake with a preliminary
magnitude of 7.2 rattled the South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu
early Friday, triggering a tsunami watch for the area, officials
said. There were no immediate reports of damage.
warning for Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands and New Caledonia. It said
the quake had the potential to generate a destructive tsunami that
could strike coastlines in the region within minutes to hours.
The warning center said it was not known if a tsunami was
The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake hit at just after 4
a.m. local time Friday and was centered 300 miles (485 kilometers)
northwest of the capital, Port Vila, at a depth of 22 miles (36
Authorities in Vanuatu said they were checking for information
on both the quake and the regional tsunami alert.
"We're expecting to issue an alert for any tsunami threat
shortly, but we have no report of a tsunami from Luganville," said
the director of Vanuatu's Meteorological Office, who only gave his
name as Salesa. Luganville is the island closest to the quake's
He said his office was assessing the information from the
Pacific Tsunami Warning Center and working with police to gather
"We have no information yet and no sign of any tsunami,"
police spokesman Smith Wuwue said from Port Vila on the island of
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)