Big magnitude 7.6 natural disaster hits New Caledonia

Big magnitude 7.6 natural disaster hits New Caledonia

Big magnitude 7.6 natural disaster hits New Caledonia

New Caledonia on Wednesday ordered the evacuation of coastal areas following a tsunami warning, after a powerful undersea natural disaster of magnitude 7.6 struck off the east coast of the French territory.

Tsunami waves have already struck at Maré Island in New Caledonia and Lenakel in Vanuatu.

Only messages issued by the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management represent the official warning status for New Zealand. Waves of up 1m are possible in Fiji.

Tsunamis at minimal levels vary with slightly higher waves with minimal landfalls, and usually up to five minutes apart.

The US National Tsunami Centre said the quake struck at a depth of around 10 kilometres just after 3:00pm (local time).

The warning center said there was no threat to Hawaii.

People gather outside during a quake evacuation in Noumea, New Caledonia December 5, 2018.

The PTWC said although the epicenter of the quake should cause no imminent threat to the nearby coasts, residents and tourists of those area should still seek shelter and move to higher ground until the threat subsides.

A magnitude 7 natural disaster struck just before 8pm New Zealand time at a depth of 10km southeast of the Loyalty Islands.

"The building shook, but there was no damage".

But the centre later reported waves measured by its monitors around the region only reached about 72 centimetres (2.4 feet) on the island of Tanna, Vanuatu.

"Based on that, we can say that this natural disaster has generated a tsunami, but we don't know the impact and how far it could go onshore", seismologist Spiro Spiliopoulos told AFP.

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.

New Caledonia, a French overseas territory, has a population of about 259,000.

Last month, voters in New Caledonia elected to remain a territory of France rather than becoming independent.

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