Earthquake triggers 3ft wave tsunami warnings across South Pacific
A powerful magnitude-7.7 earthquake has struck the South Pacific east of Australia, triggering tsunami warnings for several countries in the region. The Loyalty Islands near the epicenter experienced the seismic activity at a depth of approximately 38 km (24 miles), according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).
Initially, a tsunami warning was issued for Vanuatu, with waves predicted to reach up to 3 meters (10 feet). However, this forecast was later revised down to 1 meter (3 feet) by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. The warning stated the possibility of "hazardous tsunami waves" along all coasts within a 1,000 km (620 miles) radius of the epicenter.
While smaller waves were anticipated for Fiji, New Caledonia, Kiribati, and New Zealand, the tsunami alert prompted authorities in New Caledonia to evacuate coastal areas. At least one beach was evacuated in response to the warning.
Shortly after the warnings were issued, small tsunami waves were observed in Vanuatu. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center reported waves measuring less than 0.5 meters (1.5 feet) off Lenakel, a port town in Vanuatu, as well as smaller waves in other parts of Vanuatu and New Caledonia.
New Zealand's National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) continued to assess the potential for a tsunami and issued an advisory for coastal communities. The advisory warned of strong and unusual currents, as well as unpredictable surges at the shore. NEMA urged people to avoid entering the water, beaches, and shores. Those on boats or at marinas were instructed to move onto land and not return to their vessels unless directed by officials.
The earthquake's epicenter was located southwest of Fiji, north of New Zealand, and east of Australia, where the Coral Sea meets the Pacific Ocean. Australia's Bureau of Meteorology issued a marine tsunami warning for Lord Howe Island, situated between New Zealand and Australia, advising caution due to the possibility of dangerous rips, waves, and strong ocean currents.
At present, Hawaii's Emergency Management Agency has stated that no tsunami threat is expected for Hawaii from this earthquake.