Tsunami Scare After Powerful Earthquake Rattles Tiny Pacific Islands

A massive 7.0 undersea earthquake struck the Pacific Coast on Sunday off the French coast of New Caledonia and Vanuatu, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) issued a warning after that.

The tremor was reported at 7.3 magnitude when it struck on Sunday night at about 22:44 (5:44 p.m. EST) fifty-one miles East of the Loyalty Islands, few hours after a 6,7 magnitude earthquake hit the same zone.

The PTWC immediately issued a tsunami danger warning for coasts that are about 186 miles from the earthquake’s location. The PTWC said that smaller tsunami waves of up to 3 feet had hit the part of New Caledonia and about 1 foot along part of Vanuatu.

By 12 a.m. (7 p.m. EST), the PTWC said in an announcement that the threat of the tsunami had reduced and requested people to follow the instructions of local authorities, as “small ocean fluctuations may persist in the next couple of hours.”

The National Disaster Management authority in Vanuatu instructed evacuating the South-Eastern regions. However, the New Caledonia authority is not yet ready to move out due to data compilation.

“We’re kind of frightened. We have had a tremor yesterday evening, and even today, it was a relatively huge one,” said Wayan Rigault, manager at Hotel Nengone Village. Parked vehicles were shaking and we went outside,” said an island official.

Three earthquakes in a month

The two earthquakes on Sunday made it the third recorded off the Loyalty Islands within a month. The first registered quake was 6.8 magnitude which struck on October 31.

Vanuatu and New Caledonia sit close to the supposed “Ring of Fire,” a structural area that looks like a horseshoe, and has series of volcanoes and locations of seismic activity, which include Japan, Indonesia, New Zealand, the Philippines, the western coast of Latin America and the U.S. Pacific.

The increased volcanic and seismic activity in the Ring of Fire in recent months, which led to over 200 deaths in Mexico had forced the residents of Bali and Vanuatu to evacuate the regions due to fear.