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6.8 magnitude earthquake strikes New Caledonia
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15:52, January 19, 2009

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A strong earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale struck the southeast region of Loyalty Islands in New Caledonia, the U.S. Geological Survey said on Monday.

The quake, occurred at 4:35 p.m. New Zealand local time on Monday (03:35 GMT). The epicenter was 455 km east of Noumea, the capital city of New Caledonia. There were no reports of casualties or damages so far.

The quake was 33 km deep.

No tsunami alert was issued and residents in Noumea and in towns near Tadine said they felt nothing.

New Zealand's Civil Defence & Emergency Management Ministry said there is no tsunami risk to New Zealand from the earthquake that occurred near the Loyalty Islands.

The Director of Civil Defence & Emergency Management, John Hamilton, said that the Ministry has received information about the earthquake from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) in Hawaii and Institute of Geological and Nuclear Science (GNS Science) in New Zealand.

An assessment of the information by New Zealand tsunami experts confirms there is no tsunami risk to New Zealand.

New Caledonia is made up of one long main island, surrounded by a 1,600 km long coral reef, and a scattering of smaller islands. Its population is about 240,000.

New Caledonia is a French territory, lying some 1,800 km northeast of Australia and is on the Pacific Basin's so-called Ring of Fire, an arc of volcanoes and fault lines where quakes are frequent.


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