New tsunami threatens Australia
New tsunami threatens Australia

Australia's Meteorological Agency today announced a tsunami following a 7.7-magnitude earthquake in the South Pacific on Thursday.

The Australian Meteorological Agency said the earthquake caused tidal waves, adding that "a tsunami has been confirmed that could threaten Lord Howe Island", about 550 kilometres east of mainland Australia.

The earthquake hit the Islands of Loyalty, New Caledonia and Vanuatu in the Pacific, the American Institute of Geophysics announced.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said the earthquake triggered a tsunami warning, while the U.S. Institute said the epicenter was located in the southeast of the Loyalty Islands archipelago.

The U.S. Institute initially reported that the magnitude of the quake was 7.9 on the Richter scale, then adjusted it to 7.5 and then 7.7.

The epicenter is located 400 kilometers southeast of the Loyalty Islands archipelago and 430 kilometres from Vanuatu, according to the Institute.

New Caledonia is located in the south-west Pacific Ocean, approximately 1,500 kilometres east of Australia.

The area, which includes New Caledonia and neighbouring Vanuatu, is part of the Pacific fire cordon and is one of the most severe earthquakes on the planet.

The New Zealand authorities have asked residents of the far north to stay away from beaches and seafronts for fear of rising ocean levels in the aftermath of the earthquake.

"We expect coastal areas in New Zealand to experience strong, unusual currents and an unpredictable rise in the level of water at the beach," the National Disaster Management Agency said in the aftermath of the earthquake near the Loyalty Islands.

"People in or near the sea (along the northern coast) should get out of the sea and stay away from beaches and areas on the coast, harbours, rivers and estuaries," the agency said.