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Powerful 7.1 magnitude quake hits Vanuatu, South Pacific
The online news portal of TV5

(UPDATE 3:59 P.M.) SYDNEY -- A 7.1-magnitude earthquake hit in the South Pacific near Vanuatu and New Caledonia's Loyalty Islands on Friday, the US Geological Survey said.

The quake struck at a depth of 36 kilometers (22 miles) at 0709 GMT, 60 kilometers northeast of Isangel in Vanuatu and 324 kilometers northeast of Tadine in the French Pacific territory of New Caledonia, according to USGS.

There was no threat of a widespread tsunami, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said.

"However earthquakes of this size sometimes generate local tsunamis that can be destructive along coasts located within a hundred kilometers of the earthquake epicentre," it said.

The area lies on the so-called "Pacific Ring of Fire", a zone of frequent seismic activity caused by friction between shifting tectonic plates.