In Brief

Earthquake off New Caledonia sparks tsunami alert

Authorities order evacuation of coastal areas amid fears of waves up to three metres tall

A tsunami warning has been issued for the Pacific islands of New Caledonia following a 7.6-magnitude earthquake in nearby waters.

An evacuation was issued after the quake struck about 95 miles southeast of the Loyalty Islands, which are part of the French territory, on Wednesday afternoon local time. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre (PTWC) warned that waves of between one and three metres could hit New Caledonia and the nearby island nation of Vanuatu.

“Based on the preliminary earthquake parameters, hazardous tsunami waves are possible for coasts located within 1,000km [620 miles] of the earthquake epicentre,” the PTWC said.

According to The Guardian, the earthquake was a “shallow 10km [6 miles] deep”.  Earthquakes are generally more destructive when the epicentre is near the surface.

However, while the PTWC confirmed that “tsunami waves have been observed”, their impact on land has been limited and there are no reported casualties, says ABC News.

Judith Rostain, a journalist based in New Caledonia’s capital, Noumea, said there was “no damage to the city” and that the threat of a tsunami appears to have passed, reports Sky News.

Meanwhile in Vanuatu, Dan McGarry, from the Vanuatu Daily Post newspaper, told ABC that “the waves travelled only a couple of metres beyond the normal tidal waves and that everybody was fine”.

The Directorate for Civil Protection and Risk Management of New Caledonia (DSCGR) had sent islanders a text ordering an “immediate evacuation” to refuge areas.

“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,” the text said.

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