An evacuation alert and tsunami warning was issued after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck off the eastern coast of Australia, local officials said.
The tremor hit the area around 82 kilometres east of the Loyalty Islands at around 9.45 am local time (10.45pm GMT), according to the US Geological Survey.
An alert was issued for areas within 180 miles, including Vanuatu and New Caledonia, according to Metro.
A Tsunami threat is forecasted to hit the Southern islands and parts of Central islands. Waves of 0.30 meters to 0.5 meters are likely to hit the coastlines of TAFEA, SHEFA and MALAMPA and possibly SANMA provinces. People from these provinces should take precautionary measures.
— Dan McGarry (@dailypostdan) November 20, 2017
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) said tsunami waves had been ‘observed’ but gave further detail and sirens were briefly sounded ‘along coastal areas of the Loyalty Islands with some of the residents told to evacuate’.
After an hour residents were told they could resume to normal activities but to remain vigilant for aftershocks.
Waves may have reached up to one metre (three feet) above the high tide level in parts of New Caledonia and smaller in Vanuatu.
The PTWC added:
Minor sea level fluctuations…may continue over the next few hours.
Pierre Lebellegard, a seismologist for the French Research Institute for Development, told the AFP the Loyalty Islands had been ‘seismically active for the past three weeks’.
‘They must be very frightened in Mare,’ he said, referring to the main island where more than 5,600 people live and added quake clusters ‘happen every 10 to 15 years’ in the area.
Location of large earthquake off Australia. Tsunami alerts issued for Caledonia and Vanuatu pic.twitter.com/UcPg9kptT4
— PM Breaking News (@PMBreakingNews) November 19, 2017
A resident of central Noumea said:
I thought I was going to faint, I was very afraid and I rushed out of my building.
Geoscience Australia seismologist Spiro Spiliopoulos told AFP:
They will feel moderate shaking, but there is a low likelihood of damage from the earthquake itself in Noumea.
Monday’s earthquake is the latest in a series of tremors in the area over the past few weeks. At the end of October, there was a 6.8-magnitude quake.
New Caledonia, a French collectivity, is located in the ‘Ring of Fire’, a zone of tectonic activity subject to frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
TSUNAMI ALERT: Strong M-7.3 earthquake 15 minutes ago off the coast of New Caledonia. TSUNAMI POSSIBLE… pic.twitter.com/MbUXCX0riK
— ☀️Kyle Underwood☀️ (@wx8) November 19, 2017
Vanuatu’s National Disaster Management Office advised people in southern provinces to evacuate coastal areas for higher ground, writes The Telegraph.
New Caledonia’s civil security agency said it was still compiling data, and was not planning to evacuate immediately while authorities in Australia and New Zealand said there were no tsunami threats to their countries.
In September, there were a series of intense earthquakes which hit the Ring Of Fire in the space of 48 hours – a vast section of the Pacific which encompasses New Zealand, Vanuatu, Japan, Indonesia and Mexico.
Separate earthquakes hit New Zealand and Mexico causing untold damage and claimed more than 240 lives.
This year, the youngest American to travel each and every one of the 196 sovereign nations named Vanuatu in her top 10 destinations.
Cassie de Pecol also claims to be the fastest person to visit all of them on her Expedition 196, so she’s certainly done the appropriate research.
On her route to break the Guinness World Record to become the first documented woman to travel to every sovereign nation, Cassie compiled the list of her favourite places in the world.
Vanuatu came in at number four in Cassie’s list.