WELLINGTON, New Zealand – A powerful magnitude 7.5 earthquake struck in the southern Pacific Ocean near New Caledonia on Wednesday, prompting authorities to warn of a tsunami threat to nearby islands.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said tsunami waves of between 3 and 10 feet were possible along some coasts of New Caledonia and Vanuatu, while waves of up to 3 feet were possible in Fiji.
The warning center said there was no threat to Hawaii.
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. He said the waves traveled only 7 feet beyond the normal tidal waves, and that everybody was fine on the island.
McGarry said he felt the quake where he is based in Vanuatu’s capital, Port Vila, as a mild shaking.
“We get a lot of earthquakes every year,” he said. “The tsunami warning was what was different this time, though.”
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the quake struck about 104 miles east of Tadine in New Caledonia at a shallow depth of 6 miles. Earthquakes are generally more destructive when the epicenter is near the surface.
At least five aftershocks also hit, ranging in magnitude from 5.6 to 6.0.
New Caledonia sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” the arc of seismic faults around the Pacific Ocean where most of the world’s earthquakes and volcanic activity occur.
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