February 17, 2019
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Tsunami alert lifted for 7.5-magnitude New Caledonia earthquake

 A handout picture made available by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) of a USGS Shake Map showing the location of an earthquake that hit off the east coast of New Caledonia, Dec. 5, 2018. EPA-EFE/USGS/ HANDOUT HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES

A handout picture made available by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) of a USGS Shake Map showing the location of an earthquake that hit off the east coast of New Caledonia, Dec. 5, 2018. EPA-EFE/USGS/ HANDOUT HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES

Sydney, Australia, Dec 5 (efe-epa).- The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center on Wednesday lifted the alert issued after a 7.5-magnitude earthquake struck east of New Caledonia, a French territory in South Pacific, with no significant damage reported.

"Based on all available data, the tsunami threat from this earthquake has now passed," the United States-based center said in its latest statement.

The service, which had initially warned of the possibility of large waves hitting the coasts of New Caledonia, Vanuatu and Fiji, said that some areas might register sea level fluctuations of up to 30 centimeters in the next few hours.

New Caledonian authorities had ordered the immediate evacuation of people living along the coast following the tsunami warning.

The earthquake's epicenter was situated around 168 kilometers (104 miles) east of Tadine at a depth of about 10 kilometers, according to the United States Geological Survey, which monitors seismic activity worldwide..

The Office of the High Commissioner of the Republic of France in New Caledonia had urged people to regroup at shelter sites with medicines, water and other essentials.

New Caledonia Civil protection authorities said the tremor led to two-meter high waves on the Isle of Pines, which caused minor damage but no casualties have been reported.

The earthquake was preceded minutes earlier by another tremor of magnitude-6.0 in the same region and was followed by several aftershocks, including a 6.6-magnitude tremor.

The Tsunami Warning Center later raised the magnitude of this aftershock to 7.0, although ruling out the possibility of a renewed tsunami threat.

New Caledonia, which has a population of 270,000 inhabitants, is located near the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire and the submarine volcanoes of the Lau Basin, so it usually experiences seismic tremors.

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