Tsunami warning for Vanuatu and New Caledonia after 7.6 magnitude earthquake

Authorities order the ‘immediate evacuation’ of people to refuge areas, saying tsunami waves could reach up to three metres

A tsunami warning has been issued for the Pacific island of New Caledonia, after a shallow 7.6-magnitude earthquake struck off the country’s coast, prompting warnings that hazardous tsunami waves up to three metres high could reach New Caledonia and Vanuatu.

The earthquake was a shallow 10km (6 miles) deep and occurred about 155km (95 miles) southeast of the Loyalty Islands, which are part of New Caledonia, a French territory, on Wednesday afternoon local time.

“Based on the preliminary earthquake parameters, hazardous tsunami waves are possible for coasts located within 1,000km of the earthquake epicenter,” warned the
Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC), saying waves could reach between one and three metres high.

are generally more destructive when the epicenter is near the surface, however there were no initial reports of damage or destructive waves.

The New Caledonian high commission initially issued a tsunami warning for all of New Caledonia, ordering the “immediate evacuation” of people to refuge areas and the “application of safety instructions”, with residents being alerted by urgent text message, which instructed them to go to refuges.

“If you don’t have time to prepare your evacuation, get more than 300m away from the coast and/or get to a height of more than 12m,” warned the Directorate for Civil Protection and Risk Management of New Caledonia (DSCGR).

“We activated the alert sirens... along the east coast and all the Loyalty Islands,” Eric Backes, director of the islands’ civil defence authority, told local radio.