Tsunami warning issued after 6.9-magnitude quake strikes off New Zealand

AUCKLAND (AFP, REUTERS) – A 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of New Zealand’s North Island on Friday (March 5), triggering a tsunami warning from the authorities.

New Zealand government’s seismic monitor Geonet pegged the quake at a magnitude of 7.2, with more than 60,000 people reported feeling the quake on GeoNet’s website, with 282 people describing the shaking as “severe” and 75 saying it was “extreme”.

Most others described it as light. The US Geological Survey said the quake hit 180km north-east of the city of Gisborne at 2.27am (9.27pm Singapore time), at a relatively shallow depth of 10km.

“Based on the preliminary earthquake parameters, hazardous tsunami waves are possible for coasts located within 300km of the earthquake epicentre,” the Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said.

The closest major city to the epicentre is Gisborne with a population of about 35,500 residents. People near the coast from Cape Runaway to Tolaga Bay were told to evacuate.

“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,” the National Emergency Management Agency said in a tweet.

There was no immediate report of damage.

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