Small tsunami after massive 7.7-magnitude earthquake in South Pacific west of Fiji

A 7.7 magnitude earthquake caused a small tsunami to wash ashore on South Pacific islands Friday. No damage has been reported, and the threat passed after a few hours.


The temblor was 23 miles deep.   

Waves 2 feet above tide level were measured off Lenakel, a port town in Vanuatu, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said. Smaller waves were measured by coastal or deep-ocean gauges elsewhere off Vanuatu and off New Caledonia and New Zealand.

Vanuatu’s National Disaster Management Office advised people to evacuate from coastal areas to higher grounds. The office said people should listen to their radios for updates and take other precautions.

New Zealand’s National Emergency Management Agency said it expected coastal areas would experience strong and unusual currents, with unpredictable surges at the shoreline. The PTWC said small waves of 8 inches above tides were measured at North Cape, New Zealand.

The tsunami danger passed within a few hours, though the center said small sea level changes may continue.

Agence France-Presse reported that people on multiple South Pacific islands raced to higher ground as sirens warned of possible hazardous waves.

“Based on all available data the tsunami threat from this earthquake has now passed,” AFP quotes the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said in a statement.

Earlier, the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency said there was “no tsunami threat” to Hawaii from the earthquake, while the U.S. National Tsunami Warning Center said a tsunami was “not expected” for the West Coast.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake’s epicenter was near the Loyalty Islands, a province in the French territory of New Caledonia.

The area is southwest of Fiji, north of New Zealand and east of Australia where the Coral Sea meets the Pacific.

The region is part of the “Ring of Fire,” an arc of seismic faults around the Pacific Ocean where most of the world’s earthquakes occur.

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