Published: Wed, December 05, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

New Caledonians ordered to shelters in tsunami alert after big quakes

New Caledonians ordered to shelters in tsunami alert after big quakes

"Based on the preliminary natural disaster parameters, hazardous tsunami waves are possible for coasts located within 1,000km of the quake epicenter", warned the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC), saying waves could reach between one and three metres high.

The undersea quake was a shallow 10 km deep and its epicenter was about 155 km east-southeast of the Loyalty Islands off New Caledonia's east coast.

Earthquakes generally have more destructive potential when the epicentre is near the surface and New Caledonia also sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, where most of the world's earthquakes and volcanic activity occur.

The PTWC issued tsunami wave warnings for Anatom Island and Esperitu Santo in Vanuatu and Noumea in New Caledonia.

Civil Defence were earlier assessing whether the quake could pose a threat.

Waves of up to 3m are possible in New Caledonia and Vanuatu.

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"Based on that, we can say that this natural disaster has generated a tsunami, but we don't know the impact and how far it could go onshore", seismologist Spiro Spiliopoulos told AFP. It said waves of up to 3 feet were possible in Fiji.

The epicentre of the quake was some 300 kilometres east of the New Caledonia capital Noumea, but such was the force of the shock that experts said small tsunami waves may be observed as far away as Antarctica and Russian Federation.

But people in New Caledonia and nearby Vanuatu said they did not feel the quake, and tsunami warning sirens were not immediately activated in Vanuatu.

The Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre issued an update saying that no tsunami risk has been identified to Australia.

Last month, voters in New Caledonia elected to remain a territory of France rather than becoming independent.

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