* A massive 7.1 magnitude quake has struck off New Zealand’s east coast
* The quake struck at 2.27am and was widely felt across the North Island and parts of the South Island
* ‘Terrifying’, ‘Oh my god’, ‘Biggest one I’ve ever felt’: Residents tell of horror of shaking
* PM Jacinda Ardern: “[I] hope everyone is OK out there.”
A beach and marine warning is still in place for large swathes of the North Island – but a land tsunami warning has been lifted and evacuated residents can return home, emergency officials say.
The National Emergency Management Agency had issued a tsunami activity warning for New Zealand coastal areas following a magnitude 7.1 quake off the East Cape.
People near the upper east coast from Cape Runaway to Tolaga Bay had earlier been advised to move immediately to the nearest high ground, out of tsunami evacuation zones, or as far inland as possible.
Just after 5am, that warning was eased, with no threat likely for land areas – evacuated people could return home.
But there is still a beach and marine threat for the Bay of Plenty, the East Coast, Mahia, the Chathams, and Great Barrier Island.
“We have issued a NATIONAL ADVISORY: TSUNAMI ACTIVITY following the earthquake…” the National Emergency Management Agency tweeted at 5.02am. “We expect New Zealand coastal areas to experience strong and unusual currents and unpredictable surges at the shore.
“Based on current scientific advice and information from coastal tsunami gauges there is no longer a threat to land areas. People who have evacuated can now return home.”
Strong and unusual currents and unpredictable surges are expected between Port Charles to Cape Runaway including Tauranga, Whakatane and Opotiki, as well as areas between Tolaga Bay and Mahia including Gisborne, and Great Barrier Island and the Chatham Islands.
The severity of currents and surges will vary depending on the area.
Tsunami activity could continue for several hours so the threat should be regarded as real until all warnings are cancelled.
Advice for people living in ALL coast areas:
– nzherald.co.nz will bring live updates as they happen;
– Listen to Newstalk ZB and/or TV for updates, and NZCivilDefence Twitter;
– Listen to local Civil Defence authorities;
– Stay out of the water (sea, rivers and estuaries, this includes boats);
– Stay off beaches and shore areas;
– Do not go sightseeing;
– Share this information with family, neighbours and friends.
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