An earthquake of magnitude 7.8 occurred in the Vanuatu region on Thursday local time, triggering an expanding regional tsunami warning from the Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center for parts of the Pacific located closer to the quake, according to Xinhua.

    According to a report on the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) website, the quake occurred at about 9:03 a.m. local time Thursday(2203 GMT Wednesday), and the epicenter was 295 km north-northwest of Luganville, Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu at a depth of 35 km.

    The USGS originally reported that the quake had a magnitude of 8.1, but soon revised it down to 7.8.

    Just 15 minutes later a second quake with a magnitude 7.3 hit at the same depth but 21 miles (35 kilometers) farther north of Santo and Port Vila.

    The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center immediately issued a regional tsunami warning for nations and territories in this region, including Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Nauru, Fiji, Kiribati, Australia, Indonesia and New Zealand.

    "An evaluation of the Pacific wide tsunami threat is underway and there is a possibility that Hawaii could be elevated to a watch or warning status," said a statement from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

    A strong earthquake measuring 8.0 on the Richter scale struck the South Pacific on September 30 with at least 165 killed by tsunami after the earthquake.