Residents on New Zealand’s coast were warned to head to higher ground immediately over the threat of a tsunami after a strong earthquake struck off the country’s North Island and caused severe shaking. The 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck 147 miles northeast of Gisborne, New Zealand, at 2:27 a.m. Friday (8:27 a.m. EST), according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
New Zealand’s National Emergency Management Agency issued a tsunami warning shortly after the earthquake. About 5 a.m., the agency said in an update, “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.”
Coastal areas could still experience strong and unusual currents and unpredictable surges at the shore, the agency said. Earlier the Emergency Management Agency had warned residents from Cape Runaway to Tolaga Bay to move to higher ground.
So far there have been no reports of injuries or damage. “Hope everyone is ok out there — especially on the East Coast who would have felt the full force of that earthquake,” New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Facebook.
Thousands of people reported feeling the quake, some even as far away as Christchurch on the country’s South Island, more than 540 miles from the epicentre. Some of the shakings were even characterized as “severe,” the second most intense level.