Magnitude 7.7 quake triggers tsunami warning in South Pacific

Friday, 19 May 2023 - 18:10


People across the South Pacific were told to avoid coastal areas due to the risk of tsunami waves following a 7.7 magnitude earthquake on Friday southeast of the Loyalty Islands in the French territory of New Caledonia.

Tsunami waves ranging from 0.3m to 1 metre above the tide level are possible for some coasts of Vanuatu, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) said, waves below that level are set for 25 island groups including Tonga and Tuvalu.

A 22-centimetre tsunami had been observed near New Caledonia, the threat alert added.

Vanuatu warned citizens to seek higher ground, according to an official at the Vanuatu Meteorology & Geo-Hazards Department, who said the office had received calls from people on the southern islands who had felt shaking.

Australia's meteorology bureau issued a tsunami threat for Lord Howe Island off its east coast and warned the roughly 450 inhabitants to leave the water's edge due to waves and strong currents.

"We haven't moved to higher ground and we're probably not going to," said Damien Ball of the Thompsons General Store on Lord Howe Islands. "We've been through this numerous times before and nothing ever comes of it."

Similar warnings are in place for much of New Zealand's west coast.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) said the quake hit at a depth of about 38 km (24 miles). (Reuters)

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