A magnitude 6.7 earthquake struck northern Vanuatu on Wednesday, the United States Geological Survey said, but authorities said it was not expected to trigger a tsunami.

The quake had a depth of 22 kilometers (14 miles), hitting about 300 km north of the capital Port Vila at around 3:37 pm (0447 GMT).

Centered near a sparsely populated cluster of islands, the USGS said there was a "low likelihood of casualties and damage" from the tremor.

A hotel receptionist in Port Olry, some 98 kilometers (60 miles) from the epicenter, told AFP she felt a "little earthquake" and "saw the ground shaking" but was not aware of any damage.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there was "no tsunami threat from this earthquake".

Earthquakes are common in Vanuatu, a low-lying archipelago of 320,000 people who straddle the seismic Ring of Fire.

The Ring of Fire is an arc of intense tectonic activity that stretches through Southeast Asia and across the Pacific basin.

At least seven people were killed in April this year when a 7.0-magnitude quake hit a jungle-clad area in Papua New Guinea.