State of emergency declared on New Caledonia

The French government declared a state of emergency for its Pacific territory of New Caledonia on Wednesday, as large-scale riots continue there.

The unrest erupted Monday evening in the main city of Noumea and surrounding areas.

It was apparently triggered by a debate in the French legislature to give voting rights for local elections to more residents in New Caledonia. This drew protests from islanders seeking independence from France.

The French government says the violence has left four people dead.

Reuters news agency reports hundreds have been injured and at least 80 people have been detained.

The international airport has been closed since Monday.

The Japanese consular office says direct flights between Japan and New Caledonia remained canceled as of Wednesday.

The French government says it is the first time that a state of emergency has been declared for the territory since the independence movement gained momentum in 1985.

It plans to send additional security personnel to help subdue the unrest.