Small tsunami waves were observed in Vanuatu and New Caledonia on Wednesday, December 5, 2018, following a magnitude 7.5 earthquake that occurred east of the Loyalty Islands in the South Pacific, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii.
Waves reaching 72 centimeters in height were observed in Lenakel, Vanuatu, while waves almost half-a-meter-high were seen in Ouinne on the southeast coast of New Caledonia, the center reported.
Coastal areas along the east coast of the New Caledonia’s main island, as well the Isle of Pines and Loyalty Islands, both part of France’s New Caledonia territory, were evacuated, according to New Caledonian local media.
The undersea quake struck 168 kilometers east-southeast of Tadine in the Loyalty Islands at a shallow depth of 10 km at 3:18 p.m. local time, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
Four minutes earlier, a magnitude 6 temblor was registered 155 km east-southeast of Tadine, also at a depth of 10 km.
Following the two quakes, the USGS recorded high levels of seismic activity in the area, with 10 more temblors occurring throughout the day, including one with a magnitude of 6.6 that struck at 5:43 p.m., 192 km east-southeast of Tadine also at a depth of 10 km.
Aftershocks are still undergoing.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center advised that hazardous tsunami waves up to 3 meter high could still reach some coasts of New Caledonia and Vanuatu. Waves up to 1 m are also possible for some coasts of Fiji to the east, it said.