Magnitude Quake Strikes Off New Caledonia, Evacuation Underway

Potential travel time for a tsunami had one been generated on Tuesday

Potential travel time for a tsunami had one been generated on Tuesday

A shallow and powerful 7.5-magnitude natural disaster struck off New Caledonia on Wednesday prompting a tsunami alert and evacuations on the Pacific island, authorities said.

The undersea quake was only 10km deep and about 155km east-southeast of the Loyalty Islands off New Caledonia's east coast.

New Zealand officials issued a statement saying there was no tsumani threat to New Zealand.

They said initial tsunami waves could arrive between 4:42pm UTC and 5:39pm UTC but warned that the actual arrival time of the wave could differ from this and warned that "a tsunami is a series of waves and the time between waves can be five minutes to one hour" and that the initial wave may not be the largest and most risky in the series.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre immediately issued a warning that hazardous tsunami waves could possibly affect locations up to 1000km away - including New Caledonia and Vanuatu - and that tsunmai waves had been observed. It said waves of up to 3 feet were possible in Fiji.

Ripples of less than 0.3 meters can be observed off the coasts of an array of states and territories, including in the U.S., such as Guam and Hawaii, as well as in Australia and Japan. The epicenter of the quake was some 300 kilometers east of the capital of New Caledonia, Noumea, but such was the force of the shock that experts said small tsunami waves might be detectable as far away as Antarctica and Russian Federation.

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New Caledonia is made up of a group of islands to the east of Australia.

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The quake had a preliminary magnitude of 7.5 and rattled the area just after 8 p.m., according to the United States Geological Survey.

But people in New Caledonia and nearby Vanuatu said they did not feel the quake, and tsunami warning sirens were not immediately activated in Vanuatu.

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