Tsunami hits New Zealand after magnitude-7.8 earthquake strikes near Christchurch


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Dec 25, 2015
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Tsunami hits New Zealand after magnitude-7.8 earthquake strikes near Christchurch
Updated Mon Nov 14 03:01:48 EST 2016


The powerful quake hit just after midnight (local time).

Supplied: US Geological Survey
A magnitude-7.8 earthquake has struck near the city of Christchurch in New Zealand, generating a tsunami and causing widespread damage along the northeast coast of the South Island.

New Zealand's Civil Defence issued a tsunami alert after the quake, warning of the risk of destructive waves along the country's entire east coast and advising residents on the east coast of the North, South and Chatham Islands to seek higher ground immediately.

External Link Tweet from Richard Bicknell: "Cheers for the concern all, everyone's ok. Here's the kitchen... #eqnz"

Waves of up to three to five metres could be possible in areas close to the epicentre for up to two hours after the earthquake, the warning said.

Civil Defence said the first tsunami waves had arrived but it was too early to assess the damage or if there were any casualties.

"Further waves should be expected and may be larger or more dangerous," a Civil Defence statement said.

The powerful quake hit just after midnight (local time), with strong jolts causing some damage to buildings more than 200 kilometres away in the capital, Wellington.

The USGS revised up its original measurement of the quake's strength from magnitude-7.4 to 7.8.

Soon after the quake, Anna Kaiser, a seismologist at GNS Science said a tidal signal or surge of up to one metre had alreadybeen recorded in the North Canterbury region of the South Island.

"That's reasonably significant so people should take this seriously," she told Radio New Zealand.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said there was no immediate danger of a broader Pacific-wide tsunami from the quake.

Effects felt as far as Wellington
Photo A large fissure runs along the Kaikoura Road about two hours north of Christchurch.
AP: Joe Morgan

In Wellington, 214 kilometres north of the quake's epicentre, power was knocked out in some places, with windows smashed and chimneys damaged.

Radio New Zealand said the Wellington City Council had received multiple reports of significant damage.

Local media reported landslips and extensive damage to roads.

A series of aftershocks were recorded around the country, some as strong as magnitude-6.1.

Earthquake 'scarier than normal'
Photo People evacuated from buildings stand on a street in Wellington, after the earthquake shook the New Zealand capital.
AP: Ross Setford/SNPA

ABC journalist Tom Maddocks was staying in Christchurch at the time of the quake and was evacuated from a hostel in the area.

He said the coastal suburb of New Brighton, some 10 kilometres from Christchurch, had been swiftly evacuated.

External Link Tweet from Code Club Aotearoa: "And the terrifying sound... #eqnz"

Chris Hill, a fire officer in Cheviot, a coastal town near the quake's epicentre, said officials had gone door-to-door evacuating residents.

"Everyone seems OK here. There's a lot of debris in houses, but at this stage it doesn't look like anything too bad has happened," he told Radio New Zealand.

Australian journalist Gemma Snowdon, who is living just north of Christchurch, told the ABC the tremor woke her from her sleep.

"I ran outside with my housemates and we quickly realised what was going on and the ground just shook and shook and shook and it seemed never-ending," she said.

Snowdon said the situation was "scarier than normal".

"I have been hearing sirens and alarms going off throughout the city. I think everyone is a bit shaken up by this," she said.

"[Earthquakes] are a common occurrence but this one was particularly long and protracted."

Authorities rush to respond
The New Zealand police said they had responded to hundreds of emergency calls after the quake temporarily knocked out New Zealand's emergency call number, 111.

External Link Tweet from Mike Dawes: "So my swimming pool came in to visit after the earthquake #eqnz"

Within New Zealand there was some confusion about the tsunami threat.

The Ministry for Civil Defence had earlier sent out a message on Twitter saying there was no tsunami threat to the country.

But it then sent another message, "situation has changed — tsunami is possible" before reporting a tsunami had hit.

It said the National Crisis Management Centre had been activated to coordinate the central Government's response.

The quake struck at a relatively shallow depth of 10 kilometres. Earthquakes tend to be more strongly felt on the surface when they are shallow.

New Zealand sits on the "Ring of Fire", an arc of seismic faults around the Pacific Ocean where earthquakes are common.


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