No tsunami alert after two strong earthquakes in New Zealand

Two powerful earthquakes shook the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu on Sunday, but police said a tsunami alert passed without incident. No injuries or damage were immediately reported.

Australia's Emergency Management Office had initially warned that the quakes, measuring magnitude 7.2 and 6.0, could generate a tsunami affecting Vanuatu's outlying islands, a police spokesman said.

"So far there is no ... tsunami reported from the southern part of Vanuatu," police deputy commissioner, Lieut. Col. Arthur Caulton told The Associated Press, adding that the time for a tsunami was "well over."

Earlier, emergency officials had moved coastal residents to higher ground.

"There are no reports of injury or damage" from the quakes, felt throughout Vanuatu's southern islands, Caulton said.

The larger earthquake struck at 11:40 a.m. (0040 GMT) and was followed 28 minutes later by the second, the AP reports.

"We experienced a little bit of movement (in the capital, Port Vila), but not as destructive as might be expected," police captain Arnold Giro said earlier.

The stronger quake was centered 335 kilometers (210 miles) southeast of Port Vila, but only 115 kilometers (75 miles) south of the small volcanic island of Tanna. It was 7.5 kilometers (4.7 miles) beneath the earth surface.

The smaller quake's epicenter was 355 kilometers (220 miles) southeast of Port Vila and 140 kilometers (85 miles) south of Tanna, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It was centered 11 kilometers (6.9 miles) below the surface.

Caulton said the police operations center and the nation's Disaster Management Office would remain on full alert for the next 12-18 hours.

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