Magnitude 7.6 natural disaster near Loyalty Islands, no tsunami threat to New Zealand


A 7.5-magnitude natural disaster shook off the coast of the Pacific island of New Caledonia, prompting warnings that tsunami waves of up to three metres can reach New Caledonia and Vanuatu.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center initially warned surges of up to three metres (10 feet) could be expected and shallow quakes of that magnitude can be devastating.

The New Caledonian high commission issued a tsunami warning for all of New Caledonia, ordering the "immediate evacuation" of people to refuge areas and the "application of safety instructions". She said the situation remained unclear on the east coast and scattered outer islands.

The US Geological Survey (USGS) said the quake struck southeast of Loyalty Islands, New Caledonia at a depth of 10 kilometres.

The location of the powerful natural disaster that struck off the coast of New Caledonia on Wednesday afternoon, local time.

Civil defence officials in Noumea said tsunami waves hit parts of the Loyalty Islands and the Isle of Pines, but caused no damage.

The warning centre said there was no threat to Hawaii.

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Tsunami sirens were not immediately activated in Vanuatu or in Fiji, where they tested the tsunami warning system earlier this week, and some coastal communities could be brushed by tsunami waves.

Production of nickel, New Caledonia's dominant export, was briefly interrupted by the quake, however.

According to Geoscience Australia, the quake struck southeast of the Loyalty Islands about 3:18pm AEDT, just four minutes after a magnitude 5.7 quake hit the area.

McGarry said he felt the quake where he is based in Vanuatu's capital, Port Vila, as a mild shaking.

It sits along the so-called Pacific "Ring of Fire", where tectonic plates collide and numerous world's volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur.

"If you don't have time to prepare your evacuation, get more than 300m away from the coast and/or get to a height of more than 12m of altitude", warned the territory's civil protection and risk management authorities.