10 Feb 2021: Tsunami warning sounded after 7.7 magnitude earthquake jolts South Pacific
A tsunami warning has been sounded for New Zealand, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, and other nations in the South Pacific after a 7.7-magnitude earthquake hit the region on Thursday, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said.
The quake had struck shortly after midnight on Thursday local time (13:20 GMT Wednesday) and "hazardous" tsunami waves are possible within the next three hours.
Here are more details.
Earthquake: Undersea earthquake struck 415 kilometers east of Vao
According to the USGS, the earthquake had struck after midnight on Thursday about 415 kilometers (258 miles) east of Vao in New Caledonia at a depth of 10 kilometers.
The quake was initially reported to have had a magnitude of 7.5, which has since been revised to 7.7.
There were no initial reports of casualties or damage from the quake.
Tsunami: 'Waves up to 1 meter possible for Fiji, NZ, Vanuatu'
The NWS Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said in a statement, "Hazardous tsunami waves from this earthquake are possible within the next three hours."
It said waves reaching between 0.3-1 meter above the tide level were possible for some coasts of Fiji, New Zealand, and Vanuatu.
The New Zealand National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) urged people in coastal areas to shift from waterfronts.
Fact: 'Tsunami confirmed'
Quote: 'NZ coastal areas to experience strong, unusual currents'
The NEMA said, "We expect New Zealand coastal areas to experience strong and unusual currents and unpredictable surges at the shore following a magnitude 7.7 earthquake."
"People in or near the sea in the following areas should move out of the water, off beaches and shore areas and away from harbors, rivers, and estuaries," the disaster agency added.
Fact: Far north of New Zealand, Great Barrier Island affected
The statement was accompanied by a map highlighting the far north of New Zealand's north island, the Great Barrier Island east of Auckland, and a stretch of coast along the country's east as affected areas. Smaller waves are forecasted for other nations including Australia.
Context: Pacific 'Ring of Fire' prone to frequent seismic, volcanic activity
The "Ring of Fire" in the Pacific is a region where tectonic plates collide causing frequent seismic and volcanic activity.
Back in 2018, a 7.5-magnitude quake and subsequent tsunami on Indonesia's Sulawesi island had left over 4,300 dead or missing.
A 9.1-magnitude quake off Sumatra island's coast in 2004 had killed roughly 2,20,000, including 1,70,000 in Indonesia alone.