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New Caledonians ordered to shelters in tsunami alert after big quake

05 December 2018

A shallow and powerful 7.5-magnitude natural disaster struck off the Pacific islands of New Caledonia Wednesday, US seismologists said, triggering a tsunami warning for the area.

A second powerful quake, of magnitude 7, has hit off New Caledonia, just hours after one measuring 7.6, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC).

New Zealand, which falls within the radius, is not under threat, the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management declared via Twitter. The evacuation order from the regional police said western islands didn't need to evacuate but should remain vigilant.

The magnitude 7.5 quake hit in the afternoon near the French territory of New Caledonia at a shallow depth, where earthquakes are generally more damaging.

The French territory, comprising of dozens of islands, is around 1,500 miles north of New Zealand.

Nearly three hours after the quake, the Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center reported the threat stemming from the initial quake "has now passed".

But the centre later reported waves measured by its monitors around the region only reached about 72 centimetres (2.4 feet) on the island of Tanna, Vanuatu.

There were no reports of immediate damage, injuries or casualties.

The natural disaster made impact at 3.18pm local time in New Caledonia.

The spokesperson said he had felt the quake, describing it a strong but not long-lasting shaking.

The United States Geological Survey also recorded a series of aftershocks, two of them at 5.9 magnitude.

"We get a lot of earthquakes every year", he said.

New Caledonia is situated on the Pacific "Ring of Fire", which is an arc of seismic faults around the Pacific Ocean where the majority of the world's earthquakes and volcanic activity occur. He said a warning satyed in place for other parts of the islands for some time afterwards.

New Caledonians ordered to shelters in tsunami alert after big quake