Wellington: A tsunami warning has been issued for the east coast of New Zealand after an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.4 struck 91 kilometres north-northeast of the city of Christchurch.
Christchurch is the biggest city on New Zealand’s South Island. New Zealand’s national civil defence organisation, which issued the warning, advised people to move inland and to higher ground. The statement said tsunami activity could continue for several hours. Anna Kaiser, a seismologist at GNS Science said a tidal signal or surge of up to one metre had been 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. However, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center did not issue a warning following the quake and there were no immediate reports of casualties.
“Based on all available data a destructive Pacific-wide tsunami is not expected,” the center reported.
Civil Defence said it was too early to assess the damage or whether there had been any injuries or deaths. The New Zealand government’s GeoNet website said the quake was
“felt widely” throughout the country and warned citizens to watch out for aftershocks. Tamsin Edensor, a mother of two in Christchurch, said the shaking lasted a “long” time.
“We were asleep and woken to the house shaking, it kept going and going and felt like it was going to build up,” she said.
She said there was no sign of damage on her street and the power was still on, adding that she was worried about towns and villages closer to the epicentre.
“We’re getting aftershocks at the moment. We’re going to stock up on water supplies just in case.”
In September, a strong 7.1-magnitude earthquake struck the east coast of New Zealand, generating a small tsunami, but no significant damage or injuries were reported. In February 2011, a 6.3 earthquake left 185 people dead in the South Island city of Christhurch. New Zealand is on the boundary of the Australian and Pacific tectonic plates, which form part of the so-called “Ring of Fire”, and experiences up to 15,000 tremors a year.