7.3 earthquake hits in Pacific Ocean near Vanuatu

Published December 25, 2010 3:57PM (EST)

A powerful earthquake struck under the sea near Vanuatu early Sunday, generating a small tsunami in the South Pacific. No damage or injuries were immediately reported.

The 7.3 magnitude quake struck Sunday just after midnight about 140 miles (225 kilometers) south of Vanuatu's capital, Port Vila. The U.S. Geological Survey said it was about 15 miles (24 kilometers) below the ocean floor.

A tsunami wave measuring about 6 inches (15 centimeters) was recorded on some coastlines at Vanuatu, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said. New Caledonia and Fiji also were warned a tsunami was possible on their coasts, but the warning was canceled about an hour and a half after the temblor.

Vanuatu is part of the Pacific "ring of fire" -- an arc of earthquake and volcanic zones stretching from Chile in South America through Alaska and down through the South Pacific.

A 7.5 temblor that struck under the sea floor just 25 miles (40 kilometers) from Port Vila in August panicked residents but did not cause significant damage.

By Associated Press

MORE FROM Associated Press

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Natural Disasters