Third strong earthquake strikes off New Zealand; tsunami warning issued


Earthquake near Gisborne, New Zealand (Credit: U.S. Geological Survey)

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (NewsNation Now) — Evacuation orders were issued for New Zealanders living in some areas on the east coast on the North Island after a third earthquake struck in the area on Friday.

The latest was a magnitude 8.0 quake that struck the Kermadec Islands, northeast of New Zealand’s North Island. This came shortly after a 7.4 magnitude earthquake in the same region.

The first earthquake, of 7.3 magnitude, hit at 1:27 pm UTC, 94 miles from the Bay of Plenty in New Zealand, according to the Geological Survey. The earthquake shook at a depth of 20.8 km.

The second, slightly more powerful quake struck at 5:41 pm UTC, with a magnitude of 7.4 and a depth of 55.6 km. It hit near the Kermadec Islands off mainland New Zealand.

New Zealand’s National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) issued a tsunami warning saying 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.

“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 on Twitter.

“The earthquake may not have been felt in some of these areas, but evacuation should be immediate as a damaging tsunami is possible,” it added.

There was no tsunami threat to other areas of New Zealand.

No injuries have been reported from the first two earthquakes.

Gisborne Mayor Rehette Stoltz told TV New Zealand, “I’ve heard reports of little bits of damage, nothing major at this stage.”

In response to the first earthquake, New Zealand’s National Emergency Management Agency issued a tsunami warning, which it later revoked.

There were no immediate reports of damage from either earthquake.

“Hope everyone is ok out there – especially on the East Coast who would have felt the full force of that earthquake,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern posted on Instagram

Last month, a powerful undersea earthquake struck north of New Zealand, prompting tsunami warnings in parts of the region.

The region is prone to earthquakes because it sits along the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” a horseshoe-shaped series of seismic fault lines around the ocean. The largest earthquake in the region was a magnitude 7.7 in May 1995, according to the USGS.

Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

This is a developing story. Check back for more details.

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