FRANCISTO PORT VILA, Vanuatu: On Friday, a state of emergency was declared in Vanuatu, a country in the South Pacific Ocean, after a series of devastating earthquakes and cyclones.
The USGS reported that a 6.5-magnitude earthquake occurred at 18:04 GMT off the coast of Espiritu Santo in the northern part of the archipelago, at a depth of 10 kilometers.
It wasn’t long before the island was shaken by a magnitude 5.4 aftershock.
According to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, there was “no tsunami threat” from the initial tremor.
A state of emergency has been declared, government spokesman Joe Harry Karu told AFP, as Cyclone Kevin continues to wreak havoc.
According to AFP, no casualties have been reported. This information comes from Soneel Ram, a spokesman for the Pacific Red Cross.
Friday’s quakes caught residents inside as the cyclone’s high winds were already ripping off roofs and knocking down trees.
Only two days prior, Vanuatu was hit by Cyclone Judy, which had winds of up to 200 kilometers per hour (125 miles per hour).
The island nation’s 320,000 residents are still without power and internet access after days of torrential rain caused flooding and disruptions in communications.
A lot of damage could happen, according to Vanuatu Red Cross Society secretary-general Dickinson Tevi.
As Tevi, based in Port Vila, explained to AFP, “people on (Espiritu) Santo felt the earthquake, but couldn’t go outside to assess the damage because of the high winds,” the island’s capital.
They didn’t get much rest because the earthquake struck while they were wide awake from the cyclone, they said.
He claimed that some areas of Port Vila had been dark for two days.
Cyclone Judy had already damaged many structures before the winds died down, so it is likely that there will be significant damage.
A 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit off Espiritu Santo in January, forcing residents to seek shelter on higher ground but otherwise causing little destruction.
Vanuatu is located on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” an area prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions due to the constant collision of tectonic plates.
The annual World Risk Report lists it as one of the top ten countries most at risk from earthquakes, storms, floods, and tsunamis.