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Tsunami Hits N. Zealand After Powerful Earthquake, Aftershocks

New Zealand authorities have issued a tsunami warning, urging people along the entire east coast to move inland or to high ground, after a powerful earthquake hit northeast of Christchurch, the biggest city on South Island.

The tremor, with a magnitude initially estimated at 7.4 before being scaled up to 7.8, had a shallow depth of 23km, according to the US Geological Survey.

It was centered 46km from the town of Amberley with about 2,000 people, 70km from the town of Kaiapoi with 10,000 residents and 91km north-northeast of Christchurch.

NZ Ministry of Civil Defense and Emergency Management (MCDEM) issued a tsunami warning for the eastern coasts of North and South Islands.

Shortly after that, Burwood Ward Councilor Glenn Livingstone wrote on Twitter that a “2m high tsunami” hit the town of Kaikoura and moved away from the coast.

MCDEM warns the first wave may not be the largest, as tsunami activity is expected to continue for several hours.

A surge of up to one meter was recorded in North Canterbury region of the South Island, Anna Kaiser, a seismologist at GNS Science told Radio New Zealand.

“That’s reasonably significant so people should take this seriously,” she added.

At least ten aftershocks with magnitudes from 4.9 to 6.2 have struck South Island of New Zealand, USGS reported.

The tremor has been officially rated “severe,” the New Zealand Herald reported, adding that sirens could be heard in the capital of Wellington.

There are reports that houses in the town of Cheviot have been badly damaged.

“I hope everyone is safe after the earthquake tonight. [New Zealand] Civil Defense is looking into the impact of the quake,” John Key, NZ Prime Minister wrote on Twitter.

In Wellington, 214km from the quake’s epicenter, some windows and chimneys were smashed and the power was knocked out in several places, AP reported.

According to Wayne Timmo, a resident of the town of Hamilton, the quake felt like a “long slow, rolling or almost rotating motion.”

“The water in the neighbor’s swimming pool was left sloshing around for about a minute and people woken by the quake came out onto the street to talk about it,” he told Stuff.co.nz news website.

“It really shook for a long time,” Jo Davis from the town of Nelson also told the news outlet.

The quake damaged power lines in several neighborhoods and power may not be restored until morning.


Back in 2011, Christchurch was struck by a 6.3-magnitude earthquake that killed at least 185 people and injured hundreds.



Source: RT

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