Mega earthquake sparks tsunami fears

A 7.7 magnitude earthquake was recorded near New Caledonia at 2.20am today, prompting tsunami warnings for South Pacific islands, New Zealand and Australia's Lord Howe Island.

The powerful earthquake rocked an area southeast of Loyalty Islands, near New Caledonia.

The tsunami warning was cancelled shortly after 7am AEDT, hours after the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) issued the original alert for Norfolk Island and Lord Howe Island.

"The main tsunami waves have now passed all expected Lord Howe Island locations. Small unusual waves may continue, but Tsunami Warnings for Lord Howe Island have been cancelled," BOM said in a tweet.

"NSW State Emergency Service will advise the All Clear when safe to return to coastal areas."

NEW ZEALAND

 

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The tsunami warning was also cancelled for New Zealand, after residents in coast areas of the country, predominantly in Northland, were warned they should move out of the water, off beaches and shore areas, and away from harbours, rivers and estuaries.

"Based on the most recent modelling and decreasing tsunami amplitudes at North Cape, Great Barrier Island and the East Cape, the tsunami threat has passed for New Zealand," the National Emergency Management Agency said.

"There could still be large unexpected currents and the public are advised to continue to take precautions in coastal zones for the rest of today."

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Earlier, Roger Ball, acting director for Civil Defence Emergency Management, said the "very large" quake reported near the Loyalty Islands early this morning had moved officials to take action.

"As a result of that and after assessment by our science advisers, we've issued a national advisory for tsunami activity affecting the shorelines of parts of New Zealand," he said.

Mr Ball reiterated the message to the public to stay out of the water and away from the shore and beaches.

"I think it's important for people just to stay up-to-date with the information as it comes through and if you are aware of people that you may know - family or friends - who may go out for a boating activity or fishing, swimming … first thing in the morning - please do let them know, if they're in those parts of New Zealand."

Those areas include parts of Northland, the Bay of Plenty and the Gisborne coastline.

 

LORD HOWE ISLAND

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology has warned of dangerous rips, waves and strong ocean currents, and some localised overflow at Lord Howe Island.

The warning is for the immediate foreshore commencing after 2.45am (local time) Thursday and could persist for several hours.

The bureau said evacuations were not necessary for marine threat areas, but said people in those areas were advised to get out of the water and move away from the immediate water's edge.

There is no tsunami threat to the Australian mainland.

 

PACIFIC ISLANDS

The United States Geological Survey said the quake struck about 415 kilometres east of Vao in New Caledonia at a depth of 10 kilometres.

The NWS Pacific Tsunami Warning Center warned hazardous tsunami waves from the earthquake were possible.

Waves reaching between 0.3 and one metre above the tide level are possible for some coasts of Fiji, New Zealand and Vanuatu, the centre said.

Smaller waves were forecast for the Cook Islands and American Samoa.

The Pacific "Ring of Fire", where tectonic plates collide, experiences frequent seismic and volcanic activity.

In 2018, a 7.5-magnitude quake and subsequent tsunami on Indonesia's Sulawesi island left more than 4,300 people dead or missing.

A wave of 0.3 metres struck Fiji, according to the Twitter feed of the island nation's seismology department.



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