Tsunami warning after huge quake off New Caledonia

Lagoons and Reefs of New Caledonia   NASA  GSFC  Landsat  Wikimedia Commons

Lagoons and Reefs of New Caledonia NASA GSFC Landsat Wikimedia Commons

New Zealand, for its part, quickly announced that its residents would face "no tsunami threat".

The US Geological Survey (USGS) also recorded a series of aftershocks, two of them at 5.9 magnitude.

The aftershock comes after an quake struck 168.2 km (104.5 miles) from the small town of Tadine on the Loyalty Islands, New Caledonia.

Dan McGarry, the media director at the Vanuatu Daily Post, said he heard only of three small wave surges hitting the southern island of Aneityum.

Civil Defence is assessing whether a 7.6 magnitude natural disaster near Loyalty Islands will affect New Zealand.

Tsunami sirens were not immediately activated in Vanuatu - or in Fiji where they tested the tsunami warning system earlier this week and some coastal communities could be brushed by tsunami waves.

There were no reports of immediate damage, injuries or casualties.

"The building shook, but there was no damage", he told AFP.

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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. High ground, say officials, is anything taller than 39 ft above sea level.

Geoscience Australia seismologists monitoring the event said a tide gauge on Mare Island, the second-largest of the Loyalty Islands, had registered a signal for a 43 centimetre wave height.

"We get a lot of earthquakes every year", he said.

The natural disaster itself struck just 10 km (6 miles) deep and about 155 km (95 miles) east-southeast of the Loyalty Islands, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre.

Local journalist Charlie Rene told RNZ the tremor could hardly be felt in the capital Noumea about 300 kilometres from the epicentre.

It sits along the so-called Pacific "Ring of Fire", where tectonic plates collide and numerous world's volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur.

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

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