A 7.7 magnitude earthquake struck the Pacific this morning, sparking fears the tremors could trigger a catastrophic tsunami.
Vanuatu, Fiji, New Zealand, New Caledonia and Kiribati are on high alert following the earthquake near the Loyalty Islands.
It struck at a depth of about 24 miles in the area that is part of the Ring of Fire — an arc of seismic faults around the Pacific Ocean where most of the world’s earthquakes occur.
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) warned that waves could reach up to one meter in height on some coasts of Vanuatu.
They had previously hinted they could reach the shore at a height of ten feet before downgrading the original assessment.
Smaller waves were expected in Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Guam and New Zealand’s remote Kermadec Islands.
The US tsunami warning system issued a tsunami alert saying “dangerous” conditions would prevail along affected coasts.
Vanuatu’s National Disaster Management Agency has urged locals to hunker down on higher ground and evacuate coastal areas.
New Zealand’s National Emergency Management Agency said it expects coastal areas to see strong and unusual currents with unpredictable coastal flooding.