An earthquake measuring 7.7 was registered in the Pacific Ocean, southeast of New Caledonia. The earthquake triggered the tsunami warning for Vanuatu, while smaller waves are possible for Fiji and New Zealand.
According to data from the Italian National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (Ingv) and the US geological monitoring service Usgs, the earthquake had its hypocenter just 6 km deep and its epicenter in the sea not far from the island of Grande Terre. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC), immediately after the shock estimated that a tsunami would have been “possible on the coasts within a radius of 1,000 km around the earthquake epicenter”.
The magnitude earthquake struck at 1:57 pm local time (4:57 am in Italy) and after a few hours the tsunami warning was canceled. This was confirmed by the US Geological Survey (USGS). The earthquake was detected at a depth of 37.7 kilometers, equal to about 23 miles.
Tsunami warning cleared
The strength of the shock immediately raised the concern of a tsunami on the coast of New Caledonia, but also in some coastal areas of Vanuatu. «The first waves reached Mare’ and the Isle of Pines, but they did not exceed 50 centimetres. There is reason to believe they will go no further,” said Colonel Frédéric Marchi-Leccia, New Caledonia’s civil security director. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, based in Honolulu, initially said a rogue wave was “possible” within 1,000 kilometers of the epicenter, but lifted the alert an hour later. In some coastal areas of Vanuatu “possible tsunami waves from one to three meters above the tide,” the center had warned.
Evacuated the area along the coast
In New Caledonia, the police and firefighters ordered the evacuation of the entire coast, especially the beaches, in the early afternoon. The anti-tsunami sirens have been activated and the population has been asked to move away from the coast, Colonel Marchi-Leccia warned on the radio. Before the tsunami warning was lifted, the director of Civil Security had urged the population to “stay away from the sea and reach the highest areas”, and then rejoiced that the population had complied with “the instructions”.