New Caledonia earthquake: Tsunami warnings, travel advice and everything you need to know
New Caledonia has been hit by powerful aftershocks following a 7.5 magnitude earthquake that struck the Pacific region on Wednesday morning.
Tsunami alerts were subsequently issued for coasts within 1,000km (620 miles) of New Caledonia, which sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” where most of the world’s earthquakes and volcanic activity occur.
Residents received text messages urging them to flee to refuge centres immediately after the tsunami warnings were activated. There were no immediate reports of damage following the quake.
Here’s everything you need to know about the earthquake, including the latest travel advice:
Where is the earthquake?
A Shake Map showing the location of the 7.5 magnitude earthquake that hit off the east coast of New Caledonia (United States Geological Survey)
At 04:18 GMT, the quake struck New Caledonia at a depth of 10km with its epicentre 168km east-south-east of Tadine, a town on one of New Caledonia’s Loyalty Islands.
The US Geological Survey said the aftershock measured 6.6, downgrading it from an initial measurement of 7.0.
New Caledonia is a French overseas territory comprising of dozens of islands in the South Pacific with a population of about 270,000.
Neighbouring Vanuatu is an independent state with a population of over 270,000 and was previously jointly occupied by France and the UK.
Will there be tsunamis?
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center reported that some tsunami waves had been observed and that the danger zone included “coasts located within 100km of the earthquake epicentre.”
According to AP, tsunami warnings were raised as far as Fiji.
The New Caledonian high commission initially issued a tsunami warning for all of New Caledonia, ordering the “immediate evacuation” of residents to refuge centres.
The Directorate for Civil Protection and Risk Management of New Caledonia (DSCGR) later downgraded the warning, saying evacuation was not required for the west coast of the country but told residents to “remain vigilant over the entire coastal strip due to possible abnormal sea movements.”
New Zealand authorities also issued a tsunami warning after the quake which was quickly retracted.
Is it safe to travel to New Caledonia?
The Foreign Office has yet to place any travel restrictions on New Caledonia, but have warned visitors to remain cautious.
It said: “Anyone on low lying coastal areas should be prepared to move to higher ground. Please follow the advice of the local authorities and monitor media channels.