Magnitude 7.5 quake strikes in Pacific near New Caledonia

Magnitude 7.5 quake strikes in Pacific near New Caledonia

USA seismologists said the shallow and powerful 7.5-magnitude natural disaster struck off the Pacific islands of New Caledonia, triggering a tsunami warning for the area.

The depth of the quake is just 10 km (6.2 mi), meaning that is it prone to causing "hazardous tsunami waves" as forecast by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. The center issued a warning for those nearer the tremor.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said tsunami waves of between one and three meters were possible along some coasts of the island and Vanuatu, while waves of up to one metre were possible in Fiji.

A major quake Tuesday night struck the territory of New Caledonia, sparking tsunami alerts.

The tsunami waves were observed at Maré Island in New Caledonia and Lenakel in Vanuatu.

"We activated the alert sirens. along the east coast and all the Loyalty Islands", Eric Backes, director of the islands' civil defense authority, told local radio.

"The building shook, but there was no damage", he told AFP.

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New Caledonian authorities urged people to get to higher ground immediately. "For now, nothing serious has happened".

The US Geological Survey said the quake had a magnitude of 7.5, revising it down from 7.6.

In Vanuatu, Dan McGarry said he heard only of three small wave surges hitting the southern island of Aneityum.

As multiple aftershocks of up to 5.9 were felt, CCTV footage showed bathers still frolicking in crystalline sea off Noumea, seemingly unaware of the seriousness of the threat on the other coast, just 50 kilometres away.

While residents of the region are familiar with tsunami warnings and evacuations, the quake startled tourists, including communications consultant Eugenie Kerleau, 30, vacationing on the island of Lifou from her home in mainland France.

The natural disaster - magnitude 7.6 - struck off the Pacific Ring of Fire territory on Wednesday.

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