A strong earthquake struck southeast of the French Pacific island of New Caledonia (search) on Tuesday, Hong Kong seismologists said.

The 6.6-magnitude quake's epicenter was 270 miles east of the island's capital, Noumea (search), said the Hong Kong Observatory (search), which monitors seismic activity in the region. It struck about 1:20 am Hong Kong time Tuesday, the observatory said.

New Caledonia is in the Pacific Ocean 1,240 miles northeast of Sydney, Australia.