The police and firefighters ordered, this Friday, the withdrawal of the population from the coast of New Caledonia due to a tsunami alert issued after an earthquake of magnitude 7.7, registered in the Pacific Ocean.
Anti-tsunami sirens were triggered and the population was advised to move away from the coast, New Caledonia’s director of civil protection, Colonel Marchi Leccia, told the radio.
A journalist from the France-Presse agency (AFP) witnessed the evacuation of all people from a beach in New Caledonia.
A tremor measuring 7.7 on the Richter scale was detected around 2 pm (4 am in Lisbon) at a depth of 37 kilometers, near the Loyalty Islands and 333.8 kilometers southeast of the coast of New Caledonia, announced the American Institute of Geophysics (USGS).
A New Caledonian journalist said he “felt a strong tremor for at least 15 to 20 seconds”.
The shock was particularly felt at Lifou in the Loyalty Islands.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) said waves less than half a meter had been measured in Lenakel, a port town in Vanuatu. Smaller waves were measured elsewhere off the archipelago and off New Caledonia.
The PTWC had said that “it was possible” a tidal wave within a radius of a thousand kilometers around the epicenter, namely waves of up to three meters in Vanuatu. “Based on preliminary earthquake parameters, dangerous tsunami waves are possible on coasts within 1,000 kilometers of the earthquake’s epicenter,” the PTWC said in a statement.
The center appealed to inhabitants of threatened coastal areas to remain vigilant.
New Caledonia and Vanuatu are located in the so-called “ring of fire” of the Pacific, an area of great seismic and volcanic activity, where around 7,000 earthquakes are recorded each year, most of them moderate.