Magnitude 7.7 earthquake near Loyalty Islands triggers tsunami threat for Vanuatu, Fiji, New Caledonia

A tsunami threat has been issued for Vanuatu, Fiji and New Caledonia after a 7.7 magnitude earthquake struck southeast of the Loyalty Islands.

The warnings were issued just after 3pm by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre

The National Emergency Management Agency is currently assessing whether a large earthquake in the Pacific is a tsunami threat to New Zealand.

The earthquake was nearly 38 kilometres deep.

RNZ Pacific senior reporter Walter Zweifel said the warning broadcast for New Caledonia on RRB, a commercial radio station, applied to all islands, with people being asked to evacuate coastal areas for higher ground.

Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department issued the following statement: "An earthquake of this size has the potential to cause destructive tsunami that can strike coastlines near the epicenter within minutes and more distant coastlines within hours.

"The National Disaster Management Office advises people over all Vanuatu group to take appropriate action and precautionary measures upon receiving this advisory. This includes immediate evacuation from coastal areas to higher grounds."