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Strong earthquake hits New Caledonia, small tsunami waves arise



SYDNEY (Reuters) – A strong 7.1-magnitude seaquake near New Caledonia in the South Pacific triggered small earthquake shafts on Wednesday, officials in the region said.

The quake hit a shallow 10 km (6 miles) depth 372 km (230 miles) east of the New Caledonian capital Nouméa, according to the US Geological Survey. It was originally reported as Magnitude 7.

No damage was reported, but in New Caledonia, Fiji and Vanuatu, dangerous tsunami waves of up to one meter were possible, the Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said in a bulletin. Waves measuring 30 cm (1 foot) were possible on island coasts around the Pacific and as far as Australia, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand.

Olivier Ciry, spokesman for the Civil Defense Department of New Caledonia, said that 40 cm of waves were recorded on the main island of New Caledonia.

They reached only 5 cm on the Loyalty Islands, which are about 1

00 kilometers closer to the epicenter.

"We felt it and felt it stronger on the Loyalty Islands … there were some sea movements, but no damage to buildings, no human injury and it's over now," said Ciry.

Laisenia Rawace, Technical Director of Fiji's Seismological Surveillance Department, told Suva by phone, "We still monitor and are on standby, but at the levels there is nothing for the time being."

The area is located on the earthquake-prone Pacific Rim of the Fire. The final blow came 10 days after a massive but very deep earthquake shook the seabed near Fiji and 11 months after major quakes hit Loyalty Island without damage.

Reporting by Michael Perry and Tom Westbrook; Editing by Darren Schüttler and Paul Tait

Our Standards: The Thompson Reuters Trust Principles.

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