At least 2 dead after quake, tsunami hit New Zealand
Civil Defence warns tsunami waves could continue for several hours after magnitude 7.8 temblor strikes at shallow depth.
Recep Sakar - MELBOURNE, Australia (AA) - New Zealand’s prime minister confirmed Monday morning that at least two people were killed after a powerful earthquake shook the country, triggering a tsunami that struck the northeast coast of South Island.
“New Zealanders responded as they should have. They took the [Civil Defence] advice seriously," Television New Zealand quoted John Key as saying.
He said a military helicopter would be deployed to the coastal town of Kaikoura, which was hit by a tsunami.
The powerful earthquake struck shortly after midnight, shaking several cities across the country including the capital Wellington and as far north as Auckland.
The Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management warned on its Twitter account that waves could continue for several hours.
The United States Geological Survey revised the magnitude of the temblor from 7.4 to 7.8, reporting that it struck around 93 kilometers (57.8 miles) northeast of Christchurch, the largest city in South Island.
It occurred at a shallow depth of 10 km, and was followed by a series of strong aftershocks.
Civil Defence advised residents of coastal South Island to move to higher ground and warned that a tsunami could also arrive in North Island.
The New Zealand Herald reported that sirens could be heard in Wellington, where some people ran onto the streets, while some houses in Cheviot were reportedly “badly affected” by the tremors.
Radio New Zealand cited police as saying that efforts are ongoing to verify reports of a building collapsing in Kaikoura, which was hit by a tsunami.
Civil Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee told a press conference that while there were reports of casualties in the area, details were not available.
St John ambulance service also cited reports of injuries in Kaikoura and Culverden to the south.
Emergency lines were temporarily cut off after the quake, and local media reported that roads in several cities had suffered damaged.
New Zealand sits on the Ring of Fire, an area in the Pacific Ocean where a large number of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur.
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