New Zealand issues Tsunami warning and evacuates coastal areas following major 7.1 earthquake

A wave measuring 30 centimetres was generated near the East Cape around 90 minutes after the quake struck

Alexandra Sims
Thursday 01 September 2016 19:22
Gisborne City in north east New Zealand
Gisborne City in north east New Zealand

New Zealand civil defence authorities have ordered the evacuation of several coastal areas over fears that a major 7.1 offshore earthquake could cause a Tsunami.

An initial “potential” warning was raised to a Tsunami after a wave measuring 30cm was generated near the East Cape about 90 minutes after the quake struck on Friday morning.

"The first tsunami activity has arrived. Tsunami activity will continue for several hours," the Civil Defence organisation, responsible for national emergency management, said in a statement, AFP reports.

The warning covers the East Coast of the North Island and the upper South Island.

The quake hit at at 4:37 am, 103 miles northeast of the city of Gisborne and had a depth of 19.1 miles, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS).

Twitter users in North Island reported being woken up by shaking.

Those living in Gisborne, which has a population of around 45,000, have been told to evacuate to higher ground or go as far inland as possible.

Residents in coastal areas of the East Cape region were also being advised to evacuate by local civil defence officials, Radio New Zealand reported.

New Zealand media reported some power outages in the east coast region.

Civil defence public information officer Sheridan Gundry said the emergency management centre has been activated

The Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management and its scientific advisors were still assessing the severity of the tsunami threat.

The US National Tsunami Warning Centre said the quake did not pose any danger of a tsunami on the Pacific coast of Canada or the United States.

The Chilean Navy also said it did not expect a tsunami on the coast of the South American nation.

The USGS originally reported the quake as a 7.2 magnitude but later downgraded it to 7.1.

New Zealand is located on the Australasian and Pacific tectonic plates boundary, which form part of the “Ring of Fire” and experiences up to 15,000 tremors a year.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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