New Zealand earthquake: Two dead following powerful tremor

Source: BBC

Two people have died after a powerful magnitude-7.8 earthquake struck New Zealand’s South Island.

Prime Minister John Key said further details were not yet known.

The US Geological Survey said it hit just after midnight (11:02 GMT on Sunday), some 95km (59 miles) from Christchurch.

A tsunami arrived about two hours later. Officials warned everyone along the eastern coast to head inland or for higher ground.

Terrifying

A gauge at Kaikoura, 181 km (112 miles) north of Christchurch, measured a wave of 2.5m (8ft 2ins) in the early hours of the morning, according toWeatherwatch.co.nz.

At one point, the ministry of civil defence suggested tsunami waves as tall as 5m could hit the eastern coast

But by 05:30 local time (16:30 GMT), the warning was scaled back to waves of 3m in certain areas, including the Chatham Islands, an archipelago 423 miles (680km) south-east of the mainland.

A picture of a large fissure running along Kaikoura Road about two hours north of ChristchurchImage copyrightAP
Image captionThe earthquake struck the South Island just after midnight local time
Debris from buildings are seen on a sidewalk past a cordon line in WellingtonImage copyrightAFP
Image captionThe earthquake was felt across large swathes of New Zealand, including Wellington (aftermath pictured)
New Zealand residents camp near the top of Mt Victoria, the highest hill in WellingtonImage copyrightAFP
Image captionPeople gathered on on Mt Victoria, the highest hill in Wellington
A large fissure runs along Kaikoura Road about two hours north of ChristchurchImage copyrightAP
Image captionA number of roads have been damaged, including this one two hours north of Christchurch
A map showing the epicentre of the earthquake in New Zealand
Image captionThe epicentre of the earthquake was just north of Christchurch

Speaking to reporters in the capital Wellington on Monday morning, Mr Key said they had had very little communication from the most affected areas, like Kaikoura, on the coast, and Culverden inland.

“We don’t have any indications at the moment to believe it will rise, but we can’t rule that out,” Mr Key said, adding that a military helicopter was being dispatched to Kaikoura.

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