A tsunami threat to Fiji has been cancelled, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) said on Wednesday, shortly after a powerful earthquake struck off the South Pacific island nation, prompting many panicked coastal residents to evacuate to higher ground.
Earlier, Fiji's national disaster office issued a nationwide tsunami warning after a shallow 6.9 magnitude underwater earthquake struck off the coast of Fiji. The earthquake initially registered with a magnitude of 7.2 but was later downgraded to 6.9 magnitude by the US Geological Survey.
The epicentre of the quake was located some 221 kilometres from Nadi, a city on Fiji's main island, and 283 kilometres from the Fijian capital Suva at a depth of 15.2 kilometres (9.3 miles).
There were no initial reports of widespread casualties or damage.
The PTWC revoked the tsunami warning, it had issued earlier, just over an hour after the first tremor.
The warning, despite being cancelled, led to widespread evacuations and traffic jams.
Corrine Ambler, a Red Cross worker in Suva, said on Twitter all Red Cross staff and most of the capital was "headed to higher ground".
— corinneambler (@corinneambler) January 3, 2017
"The earthquake caused a fair bit of panic, there are cars lined up trying to get to higher ground," Jovesa Saladoka, the Fiji director of Oxfam, said from Suva.
There was no threat to nearby Pacific island nations Vanuatu and New Caledonia, authorities said.
The area lies on the Pacific "Ring of Fire", a highly active tectonic zone that frequently experiences earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.