A powerful 7.1-magnitude earthquake hit the east coast of New Zealand on Thursday, generating a small tsunami, but officials said there was no significant damage or injuries.
Many aftershocks, several of nearly 6.0 magnitude, rocked the region for hours after the initial jolt as coastal residents made their way to high ground by torchlight.
But less than three hours later they were advised they could return home after a 30-centimetre tsunami was detected.
‘The greatest wave height has already occurred, further waves are anticipated to be up to 20 centimetres,’ the Civil Defence organisation, which is responsible for national emergency management, was quoted as saying by news agencies..
However, despite the power of the temblor, East Coast Civil Defence information officer Sheridan Gundry told Radio New Zealand the impact was minimal.
‘We haven’t heard any reports of injuries or damage at all. There was power out in a few places but we’ve been let off pretty lightly as far as damage goes.’ she said.
The tsunami warning covered the East Coast of the North Island and the upper South Island.
The shallow tremor, off the coast of New Zealand, was estimated at a depth of around 30 kilometres, according to the United States Geological Survey.
It struck at 4:37 am (local time) and was centred 167 kilometres from the nearest main town, Gisborne, which has a population of around 45,000.