Earthquake rocks south Pacific
Magnitude measured at 7.5
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — A powerful earthquake that struck in the southern Pacific Ocean on Wednesday sent jitters around the region after authorities warned of possible tsunamis, but there were no initial reports of destructive waves or major damage.
The magnitude 7.5 quake hit in the afternoon near the French territory of New Caledonia at a shallow depth, where earthquakes are generally more damaging. It was felt as far away as Vanuatu, about 390 miles away.
Tsunami sirens blared across New Caledonia minutes after the quake. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said tsunami waves of between 3 and 10 feet were possible along some coasts of New Caledonia and Vanuatu, before later lifting the warning.
Local authorities in New Caledonia ordered residents to evacuate coastal zones on the eastern edge of the archipelago, including the Loyalty Islands and the island of Ile des Pins. The evacuation order from the regional police said western islands didn’t need to evacuate but should remain vigilant.
While residents of the region are familiar with tsunami warnings and evacuations, the quake startled tourists, including communications consultant Eugenie Kerleau, 30, vacationing on the island of Lifou from her home in mainland France.
“It was really surprising, I had a feeling of vertigo, the curtains were moving. We were immediately evacuated from the hotel to a calmer point at higher altitude,” she told The Associated Press.