New Zealand and Australia issued a tsunami alert after the massive 7.7 magnitude earthquake that struck the Pacific on Wednesday, but France has not yet felt the earthquake “as it felt very weak” in the Loyalty Islands and New Caledonia.
The American Geophysical Institute said the epicenter was located 400 kilometers southeast of the Loyalty Islands archipelago and 430 kilometers from Vanuatu.
The earthquake immediately triggered a tsunami warning from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.
He warned that “dangerous waves resulting from this earthquake could occur in the next three hours,” adding that waves of 30 centimeters and one meter high could reach some of the coasts of Fiji, New Zealand and Vanuatu.
Soon after, authorities in Australia and New Zealand followed suit.
“Tsunami has been confirmed,” the Australian Weather Service wrote on Twitter, warning of the dangers threatening Lord Howe Island, 550 km east of Australia.
For its part, the New Zealand Emergency Management Agency has also issued a warning to residents regarding the northern coasts of the North Island.
“We expect New Zealand’s coastal areas to be exposed to extraordinarily strong currents and an unexpected rise in water,” he said.
“People at sea or on the coast should return inland, away from beaches, coasts, ports and estuaries,” she added.
On the other hand, the French authorities have not raised any warning for the time being. “The expected wave may not exceed 30 cm,” a foreign ministry source told AFP.
“But we are following developments in the situation carefully if that changes,” she added.
According to this source, she added, the earthquake “was not felt by residents of New Caledonia and the Loyalty Islands. No material damage has been reported at this time.”
The USGS initially reported a size of 7.9 on the Richter scale, then revised it to 7.5 and then 7.7.
New Caledonia is located in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, about 1,500 kilometers east of Australia.
The area that includes New Caledonia and neighboring Vanuatu is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, and it is one of the most intense earthquake activity areas on the planet.
The Australian Plate carrying New Caledonia and the Loy Islands, which dip under the Vanuatu Arch to create the Vanuatu Trench.
In September 2018, a 7.5-magnitude earthquake triggered a tsunami that swept across the Indonesian island of Celebes.
This disaster left more than 4,300 dead or missing and at least 170,000 displaced.
Another devastating earthquake measuring 9.1 struck off the coast of Sumatra in 2004, causing tsunamis that killed 220,000 people in the region, including about 170,000 in Indonesia.