Tsunami warnings for Vanuatu, New Caledonia after magnitude-7.6 quake

Possible tsunami in Pacific after M7.5 quake

The undersea quake was only 10km deep and about 155km east-southeast of the Loyalty Islands off New Caledonia's east coast.

It warned tsunami waves of between one and three metres above tide level were possible along some coasts of New Caledonia and Vanuatu, while waves under one metre were possible for Fiji.

New Zealand's ministry of civil defence and emergency management tweeted that there was no tsunami threat to the nation's coasts.

Production of nickel, New Caledonia's dominant export, was briefly interrupted by the quake, however.

McGarry, the media director at the Vanuatu Daily Post, said the waves traveled only a couple of meters (7 feet) beyond the normal tidal waves, and that everybody was fine on the island.

Basile Citre, a municipal official on the Loyalty Island of Mare, said he had been in a meeting at the town hall when he felt a small tremor followed by a bigger shock.

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"Hazardous tsunami waves from this quake are possible within 1,000 km (600 miles) of the epicenter along the coasts of Vanuatu and New Caledonia", the PTWC said. When the sirens sounded, the population headed for higher ground for safety.

"We get a lot of earthquakes every year", he said.

A spokesperson for the Vanuatu geohazards observatory said the sparsely populated island of Tanna was expected to be most affected, but that no evacuations had been ordered. "The tsunami warning was what was different this time, though".

The epicentre was some 300 kilometres east of Noumea.

New Caledonia is a French territory in the South Pacific.

New Caledonia's largest recorded natural disaster was magnitude 8.1, in September 1920. Based on current information, the initial assessment is that the natural disaster is unlikely to have caused a tsunami that will affect New Zealand.

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