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New Zealand is hit by 7.3-magnitude earthquake triggering tsunami warning

New Zealand is hit by 7.3-magnitude earthquake triggering tsunami warning

  • Earthquake struck off the coast of NZ’s North Island early on Friday local time
  • Tsunami waves were possible within 180 miles of epicentre, warning centre said 
  • New Zealanders who felt the quake were told to flee inland or seek high ground 

A powerful 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of New Zealand today, triggering a tsunami threat on the coast of the Pacific nation. 

Emergency officials issued a tsunami warning at 3.30am local time after telling people who felt the quake on the coast of the North Island to seek high ground or  flee ‘as far inland as you can’.  

Witnesses described a ‘very long, swaying shake’ and houses making ‘cracking sounds’ in a tremor which some thought had lasted for as long as a minute, but there were no immediate reports of casualties.   

Tsunami waves were possible within 180 miles of the earthquake’s epicentre, the Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre warned.    

This diagram shows where the earthquake struck off the coast of New Zealand on Thursday 

New Zealand's emergency management agency told people living near the coast who felt a 'long or strong quake' to move inland or to high ground as soon as possible

New Zealand’s emergency management agency told people living near the coast who felt a ‘long or strong quake’ to move inland or to high ground as soon as possible 

The quake, which came less than an hour after a 3.7-magnitude rumble in the same area, was measured at 110 miles from the city of Gisborne.

The Hawaii-based warning centre said in a 3am update that ‘tsunami waves had been observed’ following the earthquake.  

New Zealand’s emergency management agency said shortly afterwards that there was a ‘land and marine tsunami threat’ to coastal areas.  

‘Anyone near the coast who felt a LONG or STRONG quake should MOVE IMMEDIATELY to the nearest high ground, or as far inland as you can,’ it said.  

The United States Geological Survey recorded the earthquake’s depth at six miles and said it had struck shortly before 2.30am New Zealand time. 

Residents of Gisborne reported light to moderate shaking, it said. 

New Zealand recently marked the 10-year anniversary of 2011’s Christchurch earthquake which killed 185 people and wrecked large parts of the city. 

This month also marks a decade since the Pacific earthquake that triggered the Japanese tsunami and resulting Fukushima nuclear disaster.  

More to follow.  

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