New Caledonia, Vanuatu order evacuations after powerful quake

New Caledonia, Vanuatu order evacuations after powerful quake

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center warns that three-metre high tsunami waves are possible on some coasts along Vanuatu and New Caledonia.

The populations of Vanuatu and New Caledonia are similar, with just over 280,000 people living in each archipelago.

Following the first quake, officials in New Caledonia told people to move away from the coastline.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center confirmed tsunami waves had been observed following the quake.

Based on current information, the initial assessment is that the quake is unlikely to have caused a tsunami that will affect New Zealand.

A powerful natural disaster that struck in the southern Pacific Ocean on Wednesday sent jitters around the region after authorities warned of possible tsunamis, but there were no initial reports of destructive waves or major damage.

New Zealand Civil Defence has just issued a statement saying there is NO TSUNAMI THREAT TO NEW ZEALAND.

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The epicentre was around 155km (95 miles) southeast of the Loyalty Islands off New Caledonia's east coast.

The second powerful quake hit shortly before 8pm, NZ time.

"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.

The PTWC said hazardous waves below 30cm were possible right across the Pacific, including in Australia, China, Columbia, Hawaii, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, PNG and New Zealand.

The French territory, comprising of dozens of islands, is around 1,500 miles north of New Zealand.

A spokesman for French mining and metals group Eramet - which operates a nickel plant in the harbour of Noumea, the territory's capital - said it had enacted a tsunami alert process.

Authorities asked citizens to seek safety after the quake struck.

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