New Caledonians ordered to shelters in tsunami alert after quake
A shallow and powerful 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck off New Caledonia today prompting a tsunami alert and evacuations on the Pacific island. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said that tsunami waves had been "observed" in the region but did not say where. Residents of New Caledonia, which lies north of New Zealand, received text messages directing them to go to refuges immediately. Here's more.
"Hazardous tsunami waves are forecast for some coasts," the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said, after earlier warning that the danger zone included "coasts located within 1000 kilometers of the earthquake epicenter." The epicenter was some 300 kilometers east of Noumea.
Several aftershocks were reported as the tsunami center warned of waves of up to three meters above tidal levels for New Caledonia and Vanuatu and up to one meter for some parts of Fiji. New Zealand authorities issued a similar tsunami warning after the quake, but that was quickly rescinded. There were no immediate reports of damage from the initial earthquake.
According to US Geological Survey modelling, damage from the quake is expected to be minimal in terms of loss of life. Also, people in New Caledonia and nearby Vanuatu said they didn't feel the quake, and tsunami warning sirens were not immediately activated in Vanuatu.