A series of tsunami warnings have been issued after a powerful earthquake off New Zealand’s North Island prompted a major evacuation.
Thousands of people on the island’s east coast fled to higher ground following the third and strongest quake within hours.
Workers, students and residents were told to leave their homes in areas like Northland and Bay of Plenty – amid warnings tsunami waves could reach as high as three metres (10 feet) above tide levels.
The latest quake had a magnitude of 8.1 and struck the Kermadec Islands, northeast of New Zealand’s North Island.
It came shortly after a 7.4-magnitude earthquake in the same region. A large 7.2-magnitude earthquake had struck earlier, about 540 miles away on the east of the North Island.
There were no reports of damage or casualties from the quakes.
New Zealand’s National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said the first waves would arrive on New Zealand’s north shores by about 9.45am local time.
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It warned areas under threat were from the Bay of Islands to Whangarei, from Matata to Tolaga Bay including Whakatane and Opotiki, and the Great Barrier Island.
“We want everyone to take this threat seriously. Move to high ground,” Whangarei Mayor Sheryl Mai told state broadcaster TVNZ.
Warnings were also issued for other Pacific islands like Tonga, American Samoa, Fiji, Vanuatu, Hawaii and others.
Australia issued a marine tsunami threat for Norfolk Island but said there was no threat to the mainland, while Chile said it could experience a minor tsunami.
“People near the coast in the following areas must move immediately to the nearest high ground, out of all tsunami evacuation zones, or as far inland as possible. DO NOT STAY AT HOME,” NEMA said in a statement posted online
“The earthquake may not have been felt in some of these areas, but evacuation should be immediate as a damaging tsunami is possible.”
Source : Sky News