AFP - A powerful 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck near the western Pacific nation of Vanuatu early Sunday, triggering a small tsunami on the sixth anniversary of the Indian Ocean disaster.
The shallow quake generated a tsunami, the Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said, but it cancelled a regional warning after the wave measured only 15 centimetres (six inches) higher than normal in Vanuatu.
"Sea level readings confirm that a tsunami was generated," the centre said in its bulletin.
"This tsunami may have been destructive along coastlines of the region near the earthquake epicentre," it said, but cancelled the warning when no destructive wave hit.
The US Geological Survey said the quake was 12.3 kilometres (7.6 miles) deep, and its epicentre was 145 kilometres (90 miles) west of Isangel, on the island of Tanna in the Vanuatu archipelago.
The USGS revised its initial readings for the magnitude and distances involved, after first recording the quake at 7.6. Two aftershocks of 5.6 and 5.5 magnitude came in the 90 minutes afterwards, it said.
The quake struck at 12:16 am on Sunday (1316 GMT Saturday), and the initial tsunami warning covered Vanuatu, Fiji and the French Pacific territory of New Caledonia. There were no reports of damage or casualties.
Jackie Philip, a member of staff at the Melanesian Port Vila Hotel in the Vanuatu capital, said the hotel was busy with late-night Christmas revellers when the quake struck.
"Some of us, we ran outside and stood and watched the sea for a few minutes but nothing happened. There is no damage and no injuries," he said, adding that no tsunami warning had been given on local radio.
Vanuatu, which lies between Fiji and Australia and north of New Zealand, is part of the "Pacific Ring of Fire" -- an ocean-wide area alive with seismic and volcanic activity caused by the grinding of enormous tectonic plates.