The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre has lifted its tsunami alert in Fiji after an underwater earthquake struck the Pacific Ocean.
A 6.9 magnitude earthquake struck south of Fiji at 11:52 am local time, which led to the launching of a tsunami threat message by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.
“Hazardous tsunami waves from this earthquake are possible within 300km of the epicenter along the coasts of Fiji,” it said. Thankfully, the warning was later lifted saying that the threat “had passed.” However, they still urged people to remain aware of possible “minor fluctuations in sea level.”
According to the US Geological Survey, the earthquake’s epicenter was at the boundary between the Australian and Pacific continental plates and was measured to be almost 11 miles deep.
According to Fiji’s Principal Disaster Management Officer, Sunia Ratulevu, there were no reports of damage, injuries or unusual wave activity from the earthquake. He said the epicenter was way offshore and so was not felt in Suva or Nadi.
“We felt it [the quake] ever so slightly in Suva,” said Sune Gudnitz, head of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
According to Red Cross Australia aid worker Susan Slattery, “pretty much everybody in Suva evacuated buildings in fear of a tsunami.”
“Certainly the whole city was on the move. There are some level of earthquakes in and around Fiji fairly constantly or fairly often but this level of earthquake is unusual and certainly this close to the main islands is unusual and having the resultant tsunami warning is not common.”
The USGS said that following the quake were at least seven major aftershocks of magnitudes between 4.9 and 5.8.
Fiji sits within the “Ring of Fire”, a region that is prone to frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions due to shifting tectonic plates. In 2004, an earthquake and tsunami had killed over 230,000 people in many countries in the east, most of them in Aceh, Indonesia.