Earthquake in the South Pacific causes small tsunamis

A magnitude 7.7 earthquake in the South Pacific caused small tsunamis Friday.

The closest landmass to the epicenter is the Loyalty Islands in the French overseas collectivity of New Caledonia.

The underwater quake occurred in the afternoon local time. Tsunamis were reported off the coasts of Vanuatu and New Zealand, with waves rising as much as two feet above tide level.

Vanuatu urged its 300,000 residents to seek higher ground but later revised the warning as feared 10-foot-high waves failed to materialize.

New Zealand’s National Emergency Management Agency lifted their earthquake and tsunami warning at around 9:45 p.m. local time but warned citizens to practice caution in the water due to strong and unusual currents.

American seismologists rated the tremor a category 4, meaning that it produced light shaking in affected, habitable areas.

No damages have been reported from the earthquake, the small tsunamis, or from a magnitude 5.9 quake reported in the same general area 10 minutes after the first.

Geologically, the quake was caused by typical fault lines between the Australian and Pacific tectonic plates. The Australian plate moves around 75 millimeters per year, converging with the Pacific plate, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

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