The Pacific on tsunami alert after a major earthquake

Residents who evacuated the coast of Papamoa Beach, New Zealand, after the tsunami warning sounded Friday March 4, 2021 in the Pacific.

AP - George Novak

Text by: RFI Follow

4 min

A magnitude 8.1 earthquake was recorded on Friday March 4 near the Kermadec, uninhabited islands in the Pacific.

The authorities immediately triggered a tsunami alert in New Zealand, New Caledonia, Vanuatu and other territories.

Significant waves were feared, and the populations were called to evacuate the coast.

After a few hours of fear, Wallis and Futuna and New Zealand raised the alert.


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The Pacific Islands gazed anxiously at the ocean this Friday, March 4.

The threat of tsunami waves kept residents alert for a few hours after the earthquake hit the Kermadecs.

It was in this uninhabited archipelago of the South Pacific, administered by New Zealand, that the earthquake was recorded at 8:28 a.m. local time (7:28 p.m. UT).

Its magnitude: 8.1.

Other tremors have been recorded before.

Notable quake, preliminary info: M 8.1 - Kermadec Islands, New Zealand

- USGS Earthquakes (@USGS_Quakes) March 4, 2021

Multiple calls to evacuate the coastlines

Shortly after the earthquake was reported, authorities in several territories in this geographic area triggered tsunami warnings, following warnings from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

According to the latter, potentially dangerous waves could affect several islands and archipelagos.

New Zealand, Tonga, Vanuatu and several other Pacific lands are affected.

In New Zealand, the National Emergency Management Agency has called on people in certain coastal areas to evacuate.

In New Caledonia, a French community, civil security has also called for evacuating the coast.


A wave of one to three meters will impact the whole of New Caledonia.

People need to get off the beaches and stop all water sports.

Children should not be picked up from school so as not to create congestion,

 ”declared the 1st NC radio station Alexandre Rossignol, his spokesperson.

According to civil security, a wave could hit the territory around 10 a.m. local time.

Wallis and Futuna and New Zealand raise the alert

On Twitter, the French Minister of Overseas, Sébastien Lecornu, confided to follow “ 

minute by minute the evolution of the situation in (our) territories of the Pacific

 ” and called “ 

everyone to the vigilance


At 10:30 am, in New Caledonia, no significant waves had yet been reported.

In Wallis-et-Futuna, another French community in the Pacific, the tsunami warning was lifted at 11:38 a.m.


The wave did not reach the Wallis and Futuna Islands.

At this stage, there is no more tsunami risk.

The population can return to the coast,

 ”the prefect said on Twitter.

🛑Raising of the Tsunami alert at #WallisetFutuna

The Higher Administration communicated:

At 11:38 am the alert was lifted, while the Tsunami wave did not reach the Wallis and Futuna Islands.

At this stage, there is no more Tsunami risk.

The population can return to the coast.

- Prefect of Wallis and Futuna (@ Prefet986) March 5, 2021

Soon after, New Zealand also lifted its call for the evacuation.

The National Emergency Management Agency said " 

the biggest waves have passed

 ", without causing damage, and " 

all those who evacuated can now return


(With AFP)


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  • Natural disasters

  • New Caledonia

  • New Zealand

  • Vanuatu

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