Lord Howe Island on tsunami watch after strong South Pacific earthquake

A 7.7-magnitude earthquake struck the South Pacific region early on Thursday morning, triggering tsunami warnings and calls for residents to avoid beaches and shore areas.

The European Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) said the 7.7-magnitude quake’s epicentre was 417 kilometres east of Tadine, New Caledonia, and at a depth of 10 kilometres.

A marine tsunami threat was issued for Lord Howe Island after the earthquake.

Australia confirmed a marine tsunami threat to Lord Howe Island, the marine reserve more than 700 kilometres north-east of Sydney, but said evacuations were not necessary.

New Zealand authorities urged residents along its northern coast to avoid beaches and shore areas.

The New Zealand National Emergency Management Agency said people should get out of the water, off beaches and away from harbours, rivers and estuaries in areas from Ahipara to Bay of Islands, Great Barrier Island and from Matata to Tolaga Bay.

“We expect New Zealand coastal areas to experience strong and unusual currents and unpredictable surges at the shore,” the agency said in a statement.

“Strong currents and surges can injure and drown people. There is a danger to swimmers, surfers, people fishing, small boats and anyone in or near the water close to shore.”

The quake’s strength was upgraded from an earlier magnitude of 7.2. It followed at least three other tremors in the region with magnitudes ranging from 5.7 to 6.1 in a span of just over an hour.

The US Tsunami Warning System said a tsunami watch was in effect for American Samoa and cited a potential for tsunamis in other regions including Vanuatu, Fiji and New Zealand.

Waves reaching up to a level of one metre above the normal tide level were possible for some coastal areas of Vanuatu, Fiji and New Zealand, it added.

More to come


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