WELLINGTON, New Zealand, May 19: A 7.7 magnitude earthquake Friday in the far Pacific created small tsunami waves in Vanuatu.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said waves 60 centimeters (2 feet) above tide level were measured off Lenakel, a port town in the island nation. Smaller waves were measured elsewhere off Vanuatu and off New Caledonia.
Vanuatu’s National Disaster Management Office advised people to evacuate from coastal areas to higher grounds. The office said people should listen to their radios for updates and take other precautionary measures.
New Zealand’s National Emergency Management Agency said it expected coastal areas would experience strong and unusual currents, with unpredictable surges at the shoreline. The PTWC said small waves of 20 centimeters (8 inches) above tides were measured at East Cape and North Cape in New Zealand.
The tsunami danger passed within a few hours, though the center said small sea level changes may continue.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake’s epicenter was near the Loyalty Islands, southwest of Fiji, north of New Zealand and east of Australia where the Coral Sea meets the Pacific. It was 37 kilometers (23 miles) deep.
The area is part of the “Ring of Fire,” an arc of seismic faults around the Pacific Ocean where most of the world’s earthquakes occur.