19 May 2023

7.7 magnitude quake hits off Loyalty Islands, tsunami warning issued

6:48 pm on 19 May 2023

Photo: tsunami.gov

A tsunami threat has been issued for Vanuatu, Fiji and New Caledonia after a 7.7 magnitude earthquake struck Southeast of Loyalty Islands.

The warnings were issued just after 3pm by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center

The earthquake was 38km deep, the US Geological Service said.

In New Caledonia, a tsunami alert has been issued by authorities.

It applies to all islands, with people being asked to evacuate coastal areas for higher ground, according RRB, a local commercial radio station.

"The Civil Security and Risk Management Department has just triggered Tsunami alerts throughout the country. The entire Caledonian population, the Loyalty Islands and the mainland is invited to evacuate the coast and reach high points."

Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazard Department has warned that "An earthquake of this size has the potential to cause destructive Tsunami waves between 1 to 3 meters can strike Vanuatu coastlines within minutes and more distant coastlines within hour."

The National Disaster Management Office is advising people over the Vanuatu group to take appropriate action and precautionary measures.

"This includes immediate evacuation from coastal areas to higher grounds. People in the areas mentioned are advised to listen to all Radio Outlets."

RNZ Pacific's Vanuatu correspondent Hilaire Bule says the people of Aneityum from Mistry Island reported that they have received mini tsunami around 3.30pm local time (4.30pm NZT).

Fiji's Mineral Resources Department's Seismology Section has asked "coastal communities to take precaution measures."