Monday, November 20, 2017

Small tsunami waves reach Vanuatu after 7.0 magnitude earthquake

Vanuatu and New Caledonia were hit by small tsunami waves after an undersea earthquake of magnitude 7.0 struck 82 kms (51 miles) east of the Loyalty Islands in the South Pacific.
The quake, initially reported as magnitude 7.3, was the second major tremor in the same area in less than 24 hours and the third in the past month.
It struck at 9.43am local time (2243 Sunday GMT) at a shallow depth of 10km (six miles), east of the remote Loyalty Islands, the United States Geological Survey said.

The US Pacific tsunami warning centre said hazardous tsunami waves of 0.3m to one metre were possible along the coastlines of New Caledonia and nearby Vanuatu in the South Pacific.

“Government agencies responsible for threatened coastal areas should take action to inform and instruct any coastal populations populations at risk,” the PTWC said in an alert.
“Persons in threatened coastal areas should stay alert for information and follow instructions from national and local authorities.”
Vanuatu’s national disaster management office advised people in southern provinces to evacuate coastal areas for higher ground.
New Caledonia’s civil security agency said it was still compiling data, and was not planning to evacuate immediately.
Small tsunamis were later detected and waves may have reached up to one metre (three feet) above the high tide level in parts of New Caledonia and smaller in Vanuatu, the PTWC said.
“Minor sea level fluctuations ... may continue over the next few hours,” a statement from the agency said.
Nervous residents reported feeling several tremors throughout the night before the quake hit.
“Parked cars were shaking and everyone went outside,” one official from Mare in the Loyalty Islands told AFP.
“I thought I was going to faint, I was very afraid and I rushed out of my building,” said a resident of central Noumea.
“We are a little bit scared, we have had an earthquake last night and today it was quite a big one,” said Wayan Rigault, communications manager at Hotel Nengone Village on the island of Mare, which is the closest landmass to the epicentre.
Rigault said there was no immediate damage, but guests were on alert for a formal evacuation warning.
Authorities in Australia and New Zealand said there were no tsunami threats to either of those countries.
Reuters contributed to this report
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