Tsunami watch for New Zealand and Fiji after large undersea quake

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A powerful undersea earthquake has struck north of New Zealand - leaving a tsunami warning in its wake.

The 7.7 magnitude quake hit east of New Caledonia, between Australia and Fiji, north of New Zealand - and was at a depth of 10km, according to the European Mediterranean Seismological Centre.

Waves reaching up to a metre above tide level are possible for some coasts of Fiji, New Zealand and Vanuatu, the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) has warned.

It followed at least three other earthquakes in the South Pacific region with magnitudes ranging from 5.7 to 6.1 in a span of just over an hour.

The US Tsunami Warning System said a tsunami watch was now in effect for New Zealand, Fiji, Vanuatu and other Pacific islands.

The New Zealand Civil Defence National Emergency Management Agency issued an official national advisory.

It said: "We expect New Zealand coastal areas to experience strong and unusual currents and unpredictable surges at the shore."

The region is prone to earthquakes because it sits along the Pacific Ring Of Fire, a horseshoe-shaped series of seismic fault lines around the ocean.