Tsunami warnings lifted as threat from monster quakes subsides

PORT VILA, VANUATU (AFP) – Tsunami warnings were lifted across several South Pacific islands yesterday allowing tens of thousands of evacuees to return home, as the risk from a series of powerful earthquakes appeared to ease.

Earthquakes of 7.3, 7.4 and 8.1 magnitude struck near New Zealand’s remote Kermadec Islands in quick succession early yesterday, followed by dozens of powerful aftershocks and a slew of tsunami warnings across the Pacific.

Thousands headed for high ground as waves of up to three metres had been predicted in New Caledonia and Vanuatu, with states and territories from New Zealand to Peru, Russia to Antarctica also put on high alert.

People watch for signs of a tsunami from a hill in New Zealand. PHOTO: AP