An undersea earthquake of magnitude 7.0 struck in the South Pacific on Monday, sending tsunami waves towards New Caledonia and Vanuatu.
The quake, initially reported as magnitude 7.3, struck 51 miles east of the Loyalty Islands and was the second major tremor in the same area in less than 24 hours and the third in the past month.
Monday’s quake struck at 9.43 am local time (2243 Sunday GMT) at a shallow depth of six miles, east of the remote Loyalty Islands, the United States Geological Survey said.
Tsunami waves have been observed in New Caledonia and Vanuatu after a magnitude 7 earthquake struck between the Pacific Islands on Monday, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said.
The agency said waves as high as 1 metre (3.3 ft) above the high-tide mark were forecast to hit New Caledonia and smaller waves were expected in Vanuatu.
It said the actual size of the waves would vary depending on the coastline, with barrier reefs reducing wave height, and warned that the initial wave may not be the largest.
“Government agencies responsible for threatened coastal areas should take action to inform and instruct any coastal populations populations at risk,” the PTWC said in an alert.
“Persons in threatened coastal areas should stay alert for information and follow instructions from national and local authorities.”
“We are a little bit scared, we have had an earthquake last night and today it was quite a big one,” said Wayan Rigault, communications manager at Hotel Nengone Village on the island of Mare, which is the closest landmass to the epicentre.
Rigault said there was no immediate damage, but guests were on alert for a formal evacuation warning.
Vanuatu’s National Disaster Management Office advised people in southern provinces to evacuate coastal areas for higher ground.
New Caledonia’s civil security agency said it was still compiling data, and was not planning to evacuate immediately.
Authorities in Australia and New Zealand said there were no tsunami threats to either of those countries.