Tsunami Warning Issued in Pacific as New Caledonia Rocked by Multiple Strong Earthquakes

December 5, 2018 Updated: December 5, 2018

A string of powerful earthquakes have hit the off the east coast of New Caledonia in the South Pacific, around 155 kilometers (95 miles) east-southeast of the Loyalty Islands.

The strongest of the quakes registered at 7.5 in magnitude, according to the United States Geological Survey.

That tremor occurred at 3:18 p.m. local time. The epicenter of undersea quake was reported to be relatively shallow at around 10 kilometers (6 miles) below the surface.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) has issued a tsunami warning for the islands surrounding the epicenter of the earthquake, saying that tsunami waves have been observed.

The warning said that hazardous tsunami waves have been forecast for some coasts, and are possible for islands within a 1,000 kilometer (600 mile) radius, including the coasts of New Caledonia and Vanuatu.

“Tsunami waves reaching 1 to 3 meters (3 to 10 feet) above the tide level are possible along some coasts of New Caledonia and Vanuatu,” according to the warning.

“Tsunami waves reaching 0.3 to 1 meters (1 to 3 feet) above the tide level are possible along some coasts of Fiji,” it added.

“National authorities will determine the appropriate level of alert of each country and may issue additional or more refined information.”

Tsunami waves less than 0.3 meters (1 foot) were also forecast for the coasts of surrounding countries in the region.

New Caledonia’s civil defence service has issued an evacuation order for the areas within 300 meters (328 yards) of the coast for the East Coast, Isle of Pines, and the Loyalty Islands.

There were no immediate reports of damage from the quake.

A spokesman for French mining and metals group Eramet, which operates the Doniambo nickel plant in the main harbor of Noumea, said it had enacted its tsunami alert process.

“The procedure is to ask people who work near the sea to move higher up,” he said, adding that he had felt the quake, describing it a strong but not long-lasting shaking.

New Zealand’s Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management tweeted that after an earlier assessment, there was no tsunami threat to New Zealand.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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