An earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8 struck central New Zealand just after midnight, the U.S. Geological Survey said, causing widespread damage and generating a tsunami.
New Zealand’s Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management warned of the risk of destructive waves along the country’s entire east coast and urged residents in low-lying areas to evacuate and seek higher ground.
Waves of up to two metres (6 feet) could be possible for up to two hours, it said.
Anna Kaiser, a seismologist at GNS Science said a tidal signal or surge of up to one metre (3 feet) had been recorded in North Canterbury region of the South Island. …
New Zealand’s Geonet revised up its estimated magnitude of the quake to 7.5, from 6.6 earlier.
USGS said the quake was centred 91 km (57 miles) north-northeast of Christchurch, the biggest city on New Zealand’s South Island.