A strong earthquake sparked an urgent tsunami alert for Australia’s Lord Howe Island on Thursday while residents along New Zealand’s northern coast were urged to avoid beaches and shore areas.
The 7.7-magnitude quake struck southeast of the Loyalty Islands in the Pacific just after midnight.
A tsunami warning was cancelled for Lord Howe Island after being active for several hours on Thursday morning. The Bureau of Meteorology said small unusual waves could continue.
The New Zealand National Emergency Management Agency urged people to stay out of the water, off beaches and away from harbours, rivers and estuaries in areas from Ahipara to Bay of Islands, Great Barrier Island and from Matata to Tolaga Bay.
“We expect New Zealand coastal areas to experience strong and unusual currents and unpredictable surges at the shore,” the agency said in a statement.
The tsunami threat passed for New Zealand on Thursday morning just after 7am after modelling showed decreased tsunami amplitudes at North Cape, Great Barrier Island and the East Cape.
There were earlier tsunami arrivals of up to 60 centimetres on those three tide gauges, Stuff reported.
Geoscience Australia said the 7.7-magnitude quake's epicentre was about 400km east of Tadine, New Caledonia, and was at a depth of 54km.
The quake, which happened at 12.20am (AEDT) on Thursday, followed at least three other tremors in the region with magnitudes ranging from 6.0 to 6.2 in a span of just over an hour.
“Sea level observations have confirmed a tsunami has been generated,” the Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre said in a bulletin, adding a marine warning was current for Lord Howe Island from 2.45am (AEDT).
“People in areas with threat of land inundation and flooding are strongly advised by emergency authorities to go to higher ground or at least one kilometre inland,” the JATWC bulletin advised.
The US Tsunami Warning System said a tsunami watch was in effect for American Samoa and there was potential for tsunamis in other regions including Vanuatu, Fiji and New Zealand.
Waves reaching up to a level of one metre above the normal tide level are possible for some coasts of Vanuatu, Fiji and New Zealand, it added.
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