Threat of damage from large South Pacific earthquake eases

7.7 magnitude quake struck just after midnight on Thursday about 415km east of Vao in New Caledonia at a depth of 10km.

The earthquake struck in the South Pacific, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said, sparking a tsunami warning for New Zealand, New Caledonia, Vanuatu and other nations in the region [File: Theo Rouby/AP]
The earthquake struck in the South Pacific, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said, sparking a tsunami warning for New Zealand, New Caledonia, Vanuatu and other nations in the region [File: Theo Rouby/AP]

A powerful 7.7 magnitude undersea earthquake struck the South Pacific on Thursday, triggering tsunami warnings in the region that were later cancelled, with no immediate reports of damage.

The European Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) said the quake’s epicentre was 417 km (258 miles) east of Tadine, a town in the French territory of New Caledonia, and at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles).

France’s ministry for overseas territories said in a social media post on Thursday there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties in New Caledonia.

The earthquake also sparked a tsunami warning for New Zealand, New Caledonia, Vanuatu and other nations in the region.

The US Tsunami Warning System later said the tsunami threat had passed for the region, although warned there may be minor sea fluctuations.

 

According to the USGS, it was the strongest of a total of five earthquakes that occurred within an hour to the southeast of the island group.

Following the quake, the New Zealand National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) urged people in coastal areas to move away from waterfronts.

“Fortunately there is no need to evacuate at this time,” NEMA told Al Jazeera via email, adding that they were also not “aware of any casualties at this time”.

A wave of 0.3 metres struck Fiji, according to the Twitter feed of the island nation’s seismology department. It provided no further details.

John Ristau, a seismologist from New Zealand-based GNS Science, told NewsHub’s The AM Show that most likely the damage from the quake would be “minimal”. But he also warned that the quake could trigger more tremors.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies

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