A huge 6.9 magnitude quake has struck a region just 237 kilometres off the coast of Gisborne, located in the east of the North Island, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) announced. The earthquake occurred at 02:37am local time on March 5, happening at a depth of 81.8 kilometres below the surface. Moderate shaking was reported along the coast of New Zealand, although there has not been any danger to life as of yet. The earthquake had been reported as a 7.2, but that was downgraded to 6.9.
However, a tsunami warning has been issued for the east coast of the North Island.
New Zealand’s National Emergency Management Agency has warned people along the coast to seek higher land.
Anyone within a 300 kilometre radius of the quake has been advised to move.
The agency said on Twitter: “Anyone near the coast who felt a LONG or STRONG quake should MOVE IMMEDIATELY to the nearest high ground, or as far inland as you can.”
It later added: “There is a LAND and MARINE TSUNAMI THREAT. An EMA will be issued to areas under land and marine tsunami threat.”
A statement from the National Emergency Management Agency added: “This evacuation advice overrides the current COVID-19 Alert Level requirements.
“Do not stay at home if you are near the coast and felt the earthquake LONG or STRONG.
“Evacuate immediately to the nearest high ground, out of all tsunami evacuation zones or as far inland as possible.
“Tsunami activity will continue for several hours and the threat is real until this warning is cancelled.”
One person wrote on Twitter: “3am in New Zealand and residents near the North Islands East Coast being instructed to evacuate over possible Tsunami. Terrifying. Stay safe guys.”
Another person added: “Get moving Kiwis.”
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