New Cale­do­nia quake trig­gers tsunami alert, no re­ports of se­ri­ous dam­age

Global Times US Edition - - WORLD -

A pow­er­ful 7.5-mag­ni­tude earthquake struck near New Cale­do­nia Wed­nes­day, trig­ger­ing a tsunami alert and emergency evac­u­a­tions across a swathe of the South Pa­cific, but there were no im­me­di­ate re­ports of se­ri­ous dam­age or in­juries.

Au­thor­i­ties said the quake, fol­lowed by at least 10 strong af­ter­shocks, was cen­tered about 170 kilo­me­ters south­east of New Cale­do­nia’s Loy­alty Is­lands at a depth of just 10 kilo­me­ters.

Tsunami waves were recorded mov­ing out from the epi­cen­ter, prompt­ing res­i­dents to flee to high ground and trig­ger­ing surges as high as 72 cen­time­ters – on the is­land of Tanna, Van­u­atu.

Is­land res­i­dents said the ini­tial quake shook the walls of build­ings and in places turned the sea foamy.

The Pa­cific Tsunami Warn­ing Cen­ter ini­tially warned waves of up to three me­ters could be ex­pected and shal­low quakes of that mag­ni­tude can be dev­as­tat­ing.

But the cen­ter later re­ported waves mea­sured by its mon­i­tors around the re­gion only reached about 72 cen­time­ters.

Civil de­fense of­fi­cials in Noumea said tsunami waves hit parts of the Loy­alty Is­lands and the Isle of Pines, but caused no dam­age.

“Re­ports from the area con­firm that the strength of the tsunami has fallen sig­nif­i­cantly and there is no longer a ma­jor risk for the pop­u­la­tion,” said a spokesman for the civil de­fense depart­ment.

“There have been no in­juries or dam­age,” he said.

Al­most three hours af­ter the quake, the Hawaii-based Pa­cific Tsunami Warn­ing Cen­ter re­ported the threat stem­ming from the ini­tial quake “has now passed.”

The quake trig­gered emergency warn­ing sys­tems in New Cale­do­nia, where res­i­dents re­ceived an ur­gent text mes­sage di­rect­ing them to go to refuges im­me­di­ately.

Basile Citre, a mu­nic­i­pal of­fi­cial on the Loy­alty Is­land of Mare, said he had been in a meet­ing at the town hall when he felt a small tremor fol­lowed by a big­ger shock.

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