Waves of up to three meters were recorded on Wednesday in the archipelago of New Caledonia, in the South Pacific, following a magnitude 7.5 earthquake that triggered a tsunami warning and caused minor damage.
The strong shaking was located at 15.18 local time (4.18 GMT) only 10 kilometers under the seabed and 168 kilometers east of Tadine, on the island of Maré, according to the US Geological Survey, which monitors global seismic activity.
The Office of the High Commissioner of France in New Caledonia, based in the South Pacific, ordered in the early afternoon the “immediate evacuation” of the population settled near the coast.
The authorities of this French overseas territory called the inhabitants to move more than 300 meters away from the coast or to find refuge more than 12 meters high and to regroup in shelters with medicines, water and other essential articles.
Some four hours after the earthquake, the alert was canceled and the neo-Caledonians were able to return to their homes.
Several inhabitants claimed to have noticed a strong tremor of about 8 to 10 seconds, for which no fatalities or injuries have been reported, according to local media.
The Pacific Tsunami Alert System, on the other hand, reported that waves of between 1 and 3 meters were “observed” on the coasts of New Caledonia and Vanuatu, and warned of fluctuations in the normal level of the tide. About thirty countries bathed by the Pacific Ocean.
The civil protection authorities of New Caledonia indicated that the earthquake generated waves of two meters on the Isle of Pines, inhabited by less than 2,000 people, but caused minor damage without causing casualties, local press reported.
The earthquake was preceded minutes earlier by another shake in the same area of magnitude 6 and followed by a dozen replicas, including one of magnitude 6.6, for which the tsunami warning was discarded.
New Caledonia, with 270,000 inhabitants, is located near the so-called Ring of Fire of the Pacific and the underwater volcanoes of the Lau Basin, so it usually records shaking of seismic origin.
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