M6.0 earthquake hits near Isangel, Vanuatu


A strong and shallow earthquake registered by the USGS as M6.0 hit WSW of Isangel, Vanuatu at 13:18 UTC on January 18, 2019. The agency is reporting a depth of 45.1 km (28 miles). EMSC is reporting M5.9 at a depth of 40 km (25 miles). This earthquake can have a low humanitarian impact based on the magnitude and the affected population and their vulnerability.

The epicenter was located 77 km (48 miles) WNW of Isangel (population 1 437) and 166 km (103 miles) SSE of Port-Vila (population 35 901), Vanuatu.

There are about 36 000 people living within 100 km (62 miles).

38 000 people are estimated to have felt light shaking and 500 000 weak.

Tsunami is not expected.

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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