7.5 magnitude quake strikes off New Caledonia in Pacific Ocean (Second Lead)
Noumea (New Caledonia) : A powerful 7.5-magnitude earthquake shook off the coast of the Pacific island of New Caledonia on Wednesday, triggering a tsunami warning that was later lifted. No significant damage was reported.
New Caledonia is a French territory in South Pacific with a population of about 270,000. It is a part of the Pacific's "Ring of Fire", where many earthquakes occur.
The earthquake struck at a depth of 10 km, with its epicentre 168 km east-south-east of Tadine, a town on one of New Caledonia's Loyalty Islands, the BBC reported.
"Based on all available data, the tsunami threat from this earthquake has now passed," the US-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said in a statement.
The service, which had initially warned of the possibility of large tsunami waves of up to three metres hitting the coasts of New Caledonia, Vanuatu and Fiji, said that some areas might register sea level fluctuations of up to 30 centimetre in the next few hours, according to Efe news.
New Caledonian authorities had ordered the immediate evacuation of people living along the coast following the tsunami warning.
The Office of the High Commissioner of the Republic of France in New Caledonia had urged people to regroup at shelter sites with medicines, water and other essentials.
New Caledonia Civil protection authorities said the tremor led to two-metre high waves on the Isle of Pines, which caused minor damage but no casualties were reported.
The earthquake was preceded minutes earlier by another tremor of magnitude-6.0 in the same region and was followed by several aftershocks, including a 6.6-magnitude tremor.
Earlier in the day, a spokesman for the Vanuatu Geohazards Observatory said the sparsely populated island of Tanna was expected to be the most affected part of the country but no evacuations were ordered, the Guardian reported.
New Zealand's Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management tweeted that there was no tsunami threat to the nation's coasts even though the tsunami alert was issued for coasts within 1,000 km.