New Zealand has been rocked by a 6.6 magnitude earthquake off its east coast just days after a string of quakes in the same region sparked tsunami fears and mass evacuations.
A series of tremors were recorded on Tuesday morning – four days after two powerful earthquakes triggered evacuations along a 100-mile stretch of the country’s coast.
The most significant was a quake off the north-east coast with a 6.6 magnitude recorded at 8.35am local time.
A less powerful 4.9 magnitude tremor was felt further away from the mainland in the Kermadec Islands region north of New Zealand a minute later at 8.36am.
No tsumani warnings have so far been issued.
A 4.9 magnitude (pictured in blue) and a 6.6 magnitude earthquake were recorded off the east coast of New Zealand on Friday
A tsunami warning was issued on Friday after a powerful earthquake struck in the ocean off the coast of New Zealand. Pictured are people moving to higher ground above Papamoa Beach in Tauranga
Groups gather on high ground in Whangarei, New Zealand on Friday after a powerful earthquake struck off the coast
The less powerful 4.9 magnitude earthquake recorded in the Kermadec Islands Region came just one minute after the 6.6 magnitude tremor
New Zealand’s official geological hazard information source GeoNet has received 12 reports of shaking from those living on the North Island in the past hour – although 11 said the tremors were ‘weak’.
On Friday, a 7.3-magnitude quake was recorded at 2.27am east of the North Island, before another 7.4-magnitude tremor was recorded near the Kermadec Islands four hours later.
Residents living along a 100-mile stretch of coast were told to flee inland or seek high ground after the first quake, with local disaster officials predicting waves of more than 3ft and a continuous threat of ‘unpredictable surges.’
The second earthquake struck further away from the mainland and high waters were only predicted for residents living within a 40-mile range along the coast north of Auckland.
The first quake was also much more dramatic for residents on the North Island, who described a ‘very long, swaying shake’ and houses making ‘cracking sounds’ in a tremor which some thought had lasted for as long as a minute, but there were no immediate reports of casualties.
‘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.
This diagram shows where the earthquake struck off the coast of New Zealand on Friday
New Zealand’s emergency management agency told people living in a 100-mile stretch of coast to move inland or to high ground as soon as possible
A tsunami forecast map by the National Emergency Management Agency following Friday morning’s first earthquake
More than 60,000 people reported feeling the quake on seismic monitor GeoNet, with a few hundred describing the shaking as ‘severe’ and 75 calling it ‘extreme’.
There was no tsunami threat to Wellington and other regions, but civil defence authorities told people to stay away from beaches across New Zealand.
The 2.30am quake, which came less than an hour after a 3.7-magnitude rumble in the same area, was measured at 110 miles from the city of Gisborne. Aftershocks were still being recorded in the area.
A more localised tsunami forecast was issued after the second earthquake which was recorded at 6.41am
Tsunami waves were possible within 180 miles of the earthquake’s epicentre, the US-operated Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said.
The Hawaii-based warning centre said in a 3am update that ‘tsunami waves had been observed’ following the earthquake.
New Zealand’s disaster agency said shortly afterwards that flooding is expected in a 100-mile coastal stretch from Cape Runaway to Tolaga Bay.
New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern said on Instagram that she ‘hopes everyone is ok out there’ after the early-morning earthquake
‘Tsunami activity will continue for several hours and the threat must be regarded as real until this warning is cancelled,’ the emergency management agency said.
People in the affected stretch of coast should ‘MOVE IMMEDIATELY to the nearest high ground, out of tsunami evacuation zones, or as far inland as possible,’ it said.
‘Strong and unusual currents and unpredictable surges near the shore are expected… this means a threat to beach, harbour, estuary and small boat activities.’
The map shared by Ardern showing how many people had reported the quake in New Zealand, with more reports in darker-brown areas
The evacuation advice overrides pandemic-related restrictions, it added, which were recently tightened again after a single new case of Covid-19 in the community.
New Zealand recently marked the 10-year anniversary of 2011’s Christchurch earthquake which killed 185 people and wrecked large parts of the city.
This month also marks a decade since the Pacific earthquake that triggered the Japanese tsunami and resulting Fukushima nuclear disaster.