Strong Quake Near New Zealand Prompts Evacuations
By The Associated Press
NEW ZEALAND - A powerful magnitude 8.1 earthquake struck Friday in the ocean off New Zealand, prompting thousands of people to evacuate and triggering tsunami warnings across the South Pacific.

The quake was the largest in a series of tremors over several hours. Two earlier quakes registered magnitude 7.4 and magnitude 7.3.

After the largest quake, civil defense authorities in New Zealand told people in certain areas on the East Coast of the North Island that they should move immediately to higher ground and not stay in their homes. They said a damaging tsunami was possible.

The U.S. Tsunami Warning System also cautioned that it could cause tsunami waves of up to 10 feet in Vanuatu and 3 feet in Australia, Fiji, French Polynesia and as far away as Mexico and Peru. It placed a watch on Hawaii.

The agency said in a report that the quake occurred at the intersection of the Pacific and Australia tectonic plates and eclipsed the largest quake previously recorded in the region, a magnitude 8.0 in 1976.

It said the interaction between the plates creates one of the most seismically active regions in the world, and it has recorded 215 quakes there above magnitude 6.0 over the past century.

In 2011, a magnitude 6.3 quake hit the city of Christchurch, killing 185 people and destroying much of its downtown.

Published 12:35 PM, Thursday Mar. 04, 2021
Updated 07:37 PM, Thursday Mar. 04, 2021



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