New Zealand earthquake: 7.3-magnitude tremor sparks tsunami warning

·2 min read
The earthquake struck off the city of Gisborne on North Island (Getty Images)
The earthquake struck off the city of Gisborne on North Island (Getty Images)

A tsunami warning was issued and later withdrawn after a shallow, powerful earthquake struck off the coast of New Zealand.

People who felt a long or strong quake were advised to move to the nearest high ground or as far inland as possible.

Officials said in the hours afterwards that the threat “must be regarded as real”.

The quake struck 6.2 miles under the sea, 148 miles northeast of the port city of Gisborne on North Island, at 2.27am local time on Friday, waking many people. Tremors were felt across the region.

The National Emergency Management Agency, which put its preliminary magnitude at 7.3, tweeted: “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 #EQNZ”.

However, both the agency and the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre later withdrew their tsunami warnings.

The emergency management agency had warned of a land and marine tsunami threat, warning of coastal flooding on the east coast of the North Island from Cape Runaway to Tolaga Bay.

“The first wave may not be the largest. Tsunami activity will continue for several hours and the threat must be regarded as real until this warning is cancelled,” the agency posted.

Residents were advised to listen to local civil defence authorities and follow any instructions on evacuating their area, and to stay out of the water. Evacuation advice overrid Covid restrictions, officials said.

New Zealand’s seismological agency GeoNet described the quake as “severe”, saying it had received 60,463 reports of shaking.

The US Geological Survey initially put the quake at 7.3, then revised it down to 6.9.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said tsunami waves were possible within 186 miles of the quake’s epicentre.

Tremors were recorded on the other side of the world, including in Scotland.

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One woman in Auckland, also on North Island, said it was the largest earthquake they had felt in 22 years of living there.

It was also felt in the city of Christchurch, where a 6.3-magnitude quake hit in 2011, killing 185 people.

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