Tsunami Warning Issued In The Pacific Islands – Triggered By a 7.0 Magnitude Undersea Earthquake
The earthquake was initially reported at a magnitude of 7.3 when it struck at 10.44pm on Sunday local time (5.44pm EST) 51 miles east of New Caledonia’s Loyalty Islands, just hours after a 6.7 earthquake struck the same area earlier that day.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) promptly issued a tsunami threat warning for coasts within 186 miles of the earthquake’s epicenter. The center said small tsunami waves had been observed, and could reach up to three feet along part of the New Caledonian coast and up to one foot along the coast in Vanuatu.
By midnight (7pm EST) the PTWC said in a statement the tsunami threat had “largely passed,” instructing to follow local authorities’ instruction as “minor sea fluctuations may continue over the next few hours.”
In Vanuatu, the National Disaster Management Office advised the evacuation of the southeastern coastal areas, but New Caledonia’s civil security agency had not immediate plans for evacuation as it was still compiling data, Reuters reported.
“We are a little bit scared, we have had an earthquake last night and today it was quite a big one,” Wayan Rigault, communications manager at Hotel Nengone Village on the island of Mare, the closest landmass to the epicenter, told the news agency.
“Parked cars were shaking and everyone went outside,” an island official told Agence France Press.
Sunday’s earthquakes were the second and third registered off of New Caledonia’s Loyalty Islands in less than a month, following from a 6.8 magnitude earthquake on October 31.
Both New Caledonia and Vanuatu sit near the so-called Ring of Fire, a horseshoe-shaped tectonic area hosting as string of a string of volcanoes and sites of seismic activity, that includes New Zealand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan, the U.S Pacific Coast and the western coast of Central and Latin America.
Recent volcanic and seismic activity along the Ring of Fire in recent months has forced evacuations in Bali and Vanuatu over fears of eruptions, and caused more than two hundred deaths in two powerful earthquakes that struck Mexico within a few weeks in September.
According to seismologists, the magnitude 8.1 quake that struck Mexico in early September was so large it moved the fault up by 32 feet.