Magnitude-6.8 earthquake strikes off New Caledonia

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A strong earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.8 has struck the Pacific Ocean near the French territory of New Caledonia, U.S. seismologists say. No tsunami warnings have been issued.

The earthquake, which struck at 11:42 a.m. local time on Tuesday, was centered about 117 kilometers (72 miles) east of Maré Island in the Loyalty Islands, or 240 kilometers (149 miles) northeast of Yate on the New Caledonian mainland.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) put the preliminary magnitude of the earthquake at 6.8, down from an initial estimate of 7.0 from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. It struck at a depth of 29 kilometers (18 miles), making it a shallow earthquake.

Neither the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center nor the Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre issued a tsunami warning. “Based on all available data, there is no tsunami threat from this earthquake,” the Pacific center said.

Computer models from the USGS estimated that some 373,000 people across the region may have felt Tuesday’s earthquake, including 1,000 people who could have experienced moderate shaking. “There is a low likelihood of casualties and damage,” the USGS said.

New Caledonia, which consists of a number of islands and is home to about 270,000 people, is located on the so-called ‘Pacific Ring of Fire,’ an arc of fault lines circling the Pacific Basin that is prone to frequent and large earthquakes.

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