Strong and shallow M6.6 earthquake hits near the coast of Vanuatu

Strong and shallow M6.6 earthquake hits near the coast of Vanuatu

A strong and shallow earthquake registered by the USGS as M6.6 hit near the coast of Vanuatu at 18:06 UTC on January 15, 2019. The agency is reporting a depth of 46.9 km (29.1 miles). EMSC is reporting M6.6 at a depth of 50 km (31 miles). This earthquake can have a low humanitarian impact based on the magnitude and the affected population and their vulnerability.

According to the USGS, the epicenter was located 104.9 km (65.2 miles) WNW of Sola (population 1 171) and 239.5 km (148.8 miles) NNW of Luganville (population 13 397), Vanuatu.

There are about 3 000 people living within 100 km (62 miles).

1 000 people are estimated to have felt strong shaking, 2 000 moderate, 87 000 light and 221 000 weak.

Based on all available data, there is no tsunami threat from this earthquake, PTWC said.

The USGS issued a green alert for shaking-related fatalities and economic losses. There is a low likelihood of casualties and damage.

Overall, the population in this region resides in structures that are highly vulnerable to earthquake shaking, though some resistant structures exist. The predominant vulnerable building types are unknown/miscellaneous types and wood construction.

Recent earthquakes in this area have caused secondary hazards such as landslides that might have contributed to losses.

Estimated population exposure to earthquake shaking

Selected cities exposed

Regional seismicity

Featured image credit: Google, TW/SAM

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