Strong earthquake hits near Fiji

  • 04/01/2017
Fiji earthquake evacuees
People heading for higher ground after the Fiji earthquake (Corinne Ambler / Twitter)

Beachgoers in Fiji are being warned to exercise caution around the water after Wednesday's magnitude 7.0 earthquake.

There is no longer a tsunami threat for the island nation after a strong 7.0 earthquake struck to its southwest.

Pacific Tsunami Warning Center geophysicist Victor Sardina says tidal surges could still pose danger.

"It can be very dangerous to people [in the water] and people should just stay away from the shoreline."

People in Fiji headed for higher ground after the quake hit at 10:53am (local time), at a depth of 10 kilometres, about 225km southwest of Nadi.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, based in Honolulu, said there was a "possible tsunami hazard" to Fiji from the quake.

It warned that tsunami waves reaching 0.3 to 1 metres could hit coasts of Fiji in the hour after the quake.

"Disaster preparedness messages seem to be working," Fiji Broadcasting Association news presenter Amrita Priyadarshani said.

Fiji earthquake evacuations
People evacuating after the tsunami warning following the 7.0 quake (Amrita Priyadarshani / Twitter)

"Most of Suva headed to higher ground," Fiji Red Cross staff member Corinne Ambler has said on Twitter.

"We've walked up the hill at the end of our street and we're now on McGregor Road which is full of cars trying to get to higher ground and people are streaming up the hill trying to get higher," she told Newshub.

"There's a huge traffic jam with people trying to get out of town and up the hill and as far as the eye can see there's people streaming up the footpath towards me.

"The general feeling is everyone seems pretty relaxed, everyone's smiling and there doesn't seem to be any panic. It's the Fijian way, they're cheerful people. We had a plan and we stuck to their plan so everyone is just going calmly about assembling at the evacuation point."

She says the first they knew about the quake was in a meeting at the Fiji Red Cross office when the power went off several times. They didn't actually feel the quake. 

In Nadi, New Zealander Juliette Sivertsen tweeted: "Builders still working across the road from our place at Wailoaloa Beach, Nadi. Still no sirens here and we are a coastal area."

The quake's preliminary magnitude was measured at 7.2.

There was no tsunami threat to New Zealand, Auckland Civil Defence said.

Fiji quake map
A USGS map showing the location of the quake (earthquake.usgs.gov)

Australian woman Leanne Varley is on Moala Island in Fiji. She has posted a video on Facebook showing the quake shaking up a swimming pool. 

"The pool is going crazy," she says. "It has come over the side a number of times."

Newshub.