While residents of the region are familiar with tsunami warnings and evacuations, the quake startled tourists, including communications consultant Eugenie Kerleau, 30, vacationing on the island of Lifou from her home in mainland France.
"The good news is, we have had no injuries or damage", said Oliver Ciry, a spokesman for New Caledonia's directorate for civil protection and risk management, adding that abnormal movements of the sea off the east coast and around the Loyalty Islands had been spotted earlier. A shallow quake shook approximately 95 miles southeast of the Loyalty Islands Wednesday afternoon local time, prompting the emergency notice.
But people in New Caledonia and nearby Vanuatu said they did not feel the quake, and tsunami warning sirens were not immediately activated in Vanuatu.
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The PTWC said initial tsunami waves could arrive between 4:42 p.m. UTC and 5:39 p.m. UTC but warned that the actual arrival time of the wave could differ from this and warned that "a tsunami is a series of waves and the time between waves can be five minutes to one hour" and that the initial wave may not be the largest and most risky in the series.
Civil defence officials in Noumea said tsunami waves hit parts of the Loyalty Islands and the Isle of Pines, but caused no damage.
New Caledonia is comprised of dozens of islands in the South Pacific and is known for its white sandy beaches and rich marine life.
"Tsunami waves have been observed".
"The building shook, but there was no damage. For now, nothing serious has happened".
A spokesperson for the Vanuatu geohazards observatory said the sparsely populated island of Tanna was expected to be most affected, but that no evacuations had been ordered.
CCTV footage showed bathers still frolicking in crystalline seas off Noumea, seemingly unaware of the seriousness of the threat on the other coast, just 50 kilometres away.