After an earthquake and a new cyclone, Vanuatu declares a state of emergency

The Pacific island state and its 320,000 inhabitants suffered a cyclone and an earthquake simultaneously, the latter followed by an aftershock.

By IM with AFP

Vanuatu was hit by two cyclones in early March.
© JEAN-BAPTISTE JEANGENE VILMER / French Embassy in Vanuatu and S / AFP

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I’A state of emergency was declared in Vanuatu, an island state in Oceania, on Friday March 3, after a new cyclone and a magnitude 6.5 earthquake. The earthquake occurred at 6:04 p.m. GMT, 10 kilometers deep under the sea, off the large island of Espiritu Santo and 82 kilometers southwest of the village of Port-Olry, according to the Institute. American Institute of Geophysics (USGS). It was followed by an aftershock of magnitude 5.4. The Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) said there was no tsunami warning after the first tremor.

But Vanuatu is also being swept away by Cyclone Kevin, prompting the authorities to declare a state of emergency, government spokesman Joe Harry Karu told AFP. No casualties have been reported so far, Pacific Red Cross spokesman Soneel Ram told AFP.

Torrential rains

When the quake hit Vanuatu on Friday, residents were holed up in their homes as the cyclone’s strong winds ripped roofs off buildings and uprooted trees. Two days earlier, Cyclone Judy had already swept through Vanuatu with winds reaching 200 km/h. Torrential rains flooded the roads of the island, where electricity and communications are still partly cut off.

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Dickinson Tevi, secretary general of the Vanuatu Red Cross, spoke of the likelihood of significant damage. “People on [Espiritu] Santo felt the earthquake, but were unable to come out to assess the damage due to strong winds,” he told AFP from the capital Port Vila. “They told me they hadn’t slept well because the earthquake happened when they had already been woken up by the cyclone. »

Residents without electricity

Dickinson Tevi said parts of Port Vila have been without power for two days. “Once the winds subside we will assess the situation, but it is likely that there will be significant damage as Cyclone Judy has already damaged many structures. »

A magnitude 7 quake was detected off Vanuatu in early January, according to the USGS, this time triggering a tsunami warning in the region.

Vanuatu, which is part of the Pacific “ring of fire” where tectonic plates collide, experiences frequent seismic and volcanic activity. The island is ranked among the countries most prone to natural disasters such as earthquakes, storms, floods and tsunamis, according to the annual Global Risks Report.

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