Earthquakes: Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Tsunami Warning Canceled
Update: 8:14pm PST - A strong aftershock hits with a rating of 6.9 about 275 miles northwest of Vanuatu. No word on damage yet.
Update: 5:37pm PST - all tsunami warnings and watches have been canceled by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.
UPDATE -- Evacuations are in order in New Caledonia, Loyalty Islands and Tuvalu. People are being advised to evacuate to higher grounds in case of a tsunami hitting the coast.
It could strike coastlines near the epicentre within minutes and more distant lands in hours, it added.
New Caledonian authorities were evacuating the island's eastern shore and Loyalty Islands, moving people to higher ground, Reuters news agency reported.
Residents of coastal areas of Tuvalu were also being told to move, AFP reported.
There was an initial earthquake with a 7.8 magnitude struck the Celebes Sea region in western Pacific Ocean next to Sulu archipelago of the Philippines at 9:03 am local time. The earthquake had a very "deep" epicenter (595 km below the surface), which did not trigger tsunami alerts initially. However, another powerful earthquake struck next to the Vanuatu Islands in the South Pacific. This quake was not deep at 33 km. The magnitude was assessed as 7.1. The quake set off tsunami warnings in the following regions, which have now been canceled:
A TSUNAMI WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR VANUATU / SOLOMON IS. / NAURU / PAPUA NEW GUINEA / TUVALU / NEW CALEDONIA / FIJI / KIRIBATI / KOSRAE / WALLIS-FUTUNA / HOWLAND-BAKER
A TSUNAMI WATCH IS IN EFFECT FOR MARSHALL IS. / TOKELAU / KERMADEC IS / POHNPEI / NEW ZEALAND / SAMOA / AMERICAN SAMOA / TONGA / AUSTRALIA / NIUE / COOK ISLANDS / CHUUK / INDONESIA / WAKE IS. / JARVIS IS. / PALMYRA IS. / GUAM / N. MARIANAS / JOHNSTON IS. / YAP / MARCUS IS. / BELAU
The state of Hawaii is on tsunami advisory according to BNO.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the epicenter was located:
260 km (160 miles) S of Lata, Santa Cruz Islands, Solomon Isl.
295 km (180 miles) NNW of Luganville, Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu
785 km (490 miles) ESE of HONIARA, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands
2100 km (1310 miles) NE of BRISBANE, Queensland, Australia
It is not known whether the tsunami was actually generated, but the Pacific tsunami Warning Center issued an alert that this kind of earthquake could generate a tsunami wave that can strike in minutes.