Theo Rouby / AP
Updated at 02:32 ET
Under the waters of the South Pacific, a severe earthquake has raged, and dangerously strong waves may soon follow. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center warns that the magnitude 7.6 quake that hit local time on Wednesday afternoon could pose a risk to Vanuatu and the nearby island chain of New Caledonia.[roughly 620 miles] the earthquake epicenter, said the service.
The epicenter was recorded just over 100 miles southeast of Tadine, a town on the Loyalty Islands belonging to New Caledonia. The region's upper commission ordered the residents to immediately evacuate to highland and protected areas, according to The Guardian.
New Caledonia, a French overseas territory, has about 259,000 inhabitants.
There is also the danger of a tsunami. The PTWC warned that the country's Anatom and Epertu Islands could see dangerous waves within one to two hours of the earthquake strike.
New Zealand quickly announced that its inhabitants were "no tsunami threat."