DISASTER

Tsunami hits New Zealand after powerful quake

People evacuated from buildings along Dixon Street check their mobile phones while sitting on a bench in Wellington after a 6.6 earthquake based around Cheviot in the South island shock the capital People evacuated from buildings along Dixon Street check their mobile phones while sitting on a bench in Wellington after a 6.6 earthquake based around Cheviot in the South island shock the capital | AP

An earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8 struck central New Zealand just after midnight,  the US Geological Survey said, causing widespread damage and  generating a tsunami.

New Zealand's Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency  Management warned of the risk of destructive waves along the  country's entire east coast and urged residents in low-lying  areas to evacuate and seek higher ground.

Waves of up to two metres (6 feet) could be possible for up  to two hours, it said.Anna Kaiser, a seismologist at GNS Science said a tidal  signal or surge of up to one metre (3 feet) had been recorded in  North Canterbury region of the South Island.

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

New Zealand's Geonet revised up its estimated magnitude of  the quake to 7.5, from 6.6 earlier.

USGS said the quake was centred 91 km (57 miles)  north-northeast of Christchurch, the biggest city on New  Zealand's South Island.

A 6.3 quake there in February 2011 killed 185 people and  caused widespread damage.

The tremor was felt throughout most of New Zealand. Some  injuries had been reported but there no immediate reports of  deaths.

"The whole house rolled like a serpent and some things  smashed, the power went out," a woman, who gave her name as  Elizabeth, told Radio New Zealand from her home in Takaka, near  the top of the South Island.

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," he told RNZ. "There's a lot of  debris in houses, but at this stage it doesn't look like  anything too bad has happened."

Residents in Wellington said glass had fallen from buildings into the streets and hotels and apartment buildings had been  evacuated.Richard Maclean, a spokesman for the Wellington City  Council, said residents had been evacuating the city's southern  coastal suburbs due to the tsunami threat and there had been  reports of structural damage to several buildings.

"We've got reports of broken water pipes and lots and lots  of things off desks and shelves," he told RNZ.

Several roads around the South Island had been closed and  damage to power and phone networks was reported.

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

Pictures shared on social media showed buckled roads,  smashed glass and goods toppled from shelves in shops in  Wellington and the upper South Island.  

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Topics : #earthquake

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