Tsunami hits New Zealand after multiple powerful earthquakes

A tsunami has hit New Zealand’s South Island after a series of powerful earthquakes struck across the centre of the country. New Zealand’s civil defence warned people to move to higher ground as the tsunami threat may last for several hours. The country’s Geonet service says the majority of the quakes were on land. The largest quake was 7.8 magnitude and hit just midnight local time, according to the United States Geological Survey. It hit 57 miles (91km) from Christchurch, which was badly damaged by one that measured 6.3 in 2011.

The first wave may not be the largest. Waves may continue for several hours.

New Zealand civil defence tweet

The initial tremor was followed by several aftershocks, further north and also inland - including several above magnitude 6. Sirens sounded in Christchurch and other towns and cities on the coast as authorities told people to leave their homes and seek safety. Strong jolts were reported in the capital, Wellington, where at least several tweeters posted pictures of damage to their homes and other buildings. There are reports that waves of up to 1.5 metres may have hit the Kaikoura area and smallers waves hit Castlepoint and Wellington. The civil defence tweeted: “A tsunami has been generated, the first wave has arrived in the North Eastern Coast of the South Island.”

If you are in a low lying area on the East Coast of the North, South or Chatham Islands move immediately to higher ground.

New Zealand civil defence tweet