Massive quake off New Caledonia sparks tsunami warning

Massive quake off New Caledonia sparks tsunami warning

A magnitude 7.5 quake has struck off the east coast of New Caledonia in the South Pacific, according to seismologists.

Tsunami waves were recorded moving out from the epicentre, prompting people to flee to high ground.

There was no tsunami threat to New Zealand.

Earlier this evening, New Zealand Civil Defence said there was no tsunami threat to New Zealand following a 7.6 natural disaster which struck near the Loyalty Islands at 5.18pm New Zealand time. Waves of up 1m were possible in Fiji.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said that a magnitude 7.6 natural disaster may threaten Noumea with unsafe waves Wednesday afternoon local time.

The warning center said there was no threat to Hawaii.

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", with residents being alerted by urgent text message instructing them to go to refugee shelters.

The magnitude 7.5 quake hit in the afternoon near the French territory of New Caledonia at a shallow depth, where earthquakes are generally more damaging.

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The 10km deep undersea quake struck about 4am on Wednesday, 155km south-east of the Loyalty Islands off New Caledonia's east coast.

The tsunami waves were observed at Maré Island in New Caledonia and Lenakel in Vanuatu.

But the centre later reported waves measured by its monitors around the region only reached about 72 centimetres (2.4 feet) on the island of Tanna, Vanuatu.

"The building shook, but there was no damage", he told AFP. High ground, say officials, is anything taller than 39 ft above sea level.

"Based on that, we can say that this quake has generated a tsunami, but we don't know the impact and how far it could go onshore", seismologist Spiro Spiliopoulos told AFP.

Neighbouring Vanuatu also issued an evacuation warning.

Local journalist Charlie Rene told RNZ the tremor could hardly be felt in the capital Noumea about 300 kilometres from the epicentre.

New Caledonia, with a population of 269,000 people, is a French Pacific territory.

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