Powerful Quake Rocks Island as U.S. Ambassador Presents Credentials
PORT VILA, Vanuatu (AP) _ Just as the new American ambassador was presenting his credentials, a powerful earthquake rocked the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu today, sending officials running to safety.
The afternoon quake cracked cement walls and sent frightened office workers scurrying home. No injuries or major damage were reported.
″We’re still feeling aftershocks,″ said Jonas Cullwick, assistant editor of the Pacnews news agency. ″It was quite a big one.″
U.S. Ambassador Richard Teare had been about to present his credentials to President Jean-Marie Leye Lenelgau when the quake struck, Cullwick said.
Department of Geology and Mines director Stanley Temakon said the quake had a preliminary magnitude of 6.5. It was 20 miles deep and centered in the sea about 120 miles northwest of the Pacific nation’s capital, Port Vila.
The University of California Seismographic Station in Berkeley, Calif., earlier said the quake had a preliminary magnitude of 7.4. Quakes of magnitude 7 are capable of widespread, heavy damage if they occur near populated areas.
Vanuatu is a group of islands 1,200 miles northeast of Australia, with about 140,000 residents.