Big magnitude 7.6 quake hits New Caledonia

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"Hazardous tsunami waves from this natural disaster are possible within 1,000km of the epicentre along the coasts of Vanuatu and New Caledonia", the PTWC said.

The quake was a shallow 10km (6 miles) deep and occurred about 155km (95 miles) southeast of the Loyalty Islands, which are part of New Caledonia, a French territory, on Wednesday afternoon local time.

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

"There is no tsunami threat to New Zealand following the 7.6 magnitude quake southeast of Loyalty Islands", it stated. Waves of up 1m are possible in Fiji.

"Hazardous tsunami waves are forecast for some coasts", the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said, after earlier warning that the danger zone included "coasts located within 1000 kilometres of the natural disaster epicentre". USGS originally gave the magnitude of the quake as 7.6 before revising it downwards slightly.

Authorities in the South Pacific territory urged people to move to locations more than 300 metres distant from the shore, and if possible, to sites higher than 12 metres above sea level.

A spokesperson for French mining and metals group Eramet, which runs the Doniambo nickel plant in the main harbour of Noumea, said the company had activated its tsunami alert process.

Dan McGarry, the media director at the Vanuatu Daily Post, said he heard only of three small wave surges hitting the southern island of Aneityum. "The tsunami warning was what was different this time, though".

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