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Vanuatu hit by 7.1 magnitude earthquake


A videotape taken by security cameras inside an interior decoration store located in the center of the capital, Port Vila, show the destruction of an earlier earthquake in August 2010. (Screengrab from YouTube.com )

Officials said there was no immediate danger of a destructive tsunami.

Vanuatu, which lies between Fiji and Australia, is in the “Pacific Ring of Fire,” a zone of frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions that encircles the basin of the Pacific Ocean.

The undersea quake that hit Tuesday at 7:55 p.m. local time was 16.5 miles deep and centered 171 miles south of the island capital Port Vila, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.

No significant structural damage is expected.

Vanuatu has what some call the “most accessible active volcano on the planet,” Mount Yasur on the outer island of Tanna.

Besides its high seismic and volcanic activity, Vanuatu is known for its Pentecost island land divers, who perform the “rite of plummet” every year around the month of May. Jumpers attach vines to their legs and jump off of 30 meter towers in a leap that will prove their manhood and help predict whether a yam harvest is lucky or not. Some survive, some break their neck, and a few die.

“Vanuatu” means “Land Eternal,” and its people are predominantly Melanesian.

According to the United States Geological Survey, high-magnitude earthquakes often hit Vanuatu. In 2010, three earthquakes with a magnitude higher than 7 hit the island. Here’s footage from the August 2010 quake:

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