A powerful earthquake of magnitude 7.8 struck the region of South Island in New Zealand and generated a tsunami alert, prompting scenes of panic in the streets amid a series of strong aftershocks.
At least two people died in the quake, according to Prime Minister John Key.
The epicenter was located 95 kilometers northeast of the city of Christchurch after midnight Monday local time, as reported by the US Seismological Service (USGS). The movement sent waves of 2.49 meters above normal levels, according to the Emergency Centre for the Pacific Tsunami (PTWC).
“This is the highest tsunami wave that has been in New Zealand for at least 38 years,” said Philip Duncan of Weather Watch in New Zealand.
The tsunami warning was lifted already.
New Zealand is a nation in the South Pacific consists of several islands, the two largest known as North Island (North Island) and South Island (South Island), which are home to most of the population. Just over one million people live in South Island and North Island 3 million.
“It’s the (earthquake) that I felt stronger,” Tamara Hunt told CNN. She was in her house with her husband Whanganui when the earthquake began.
“He started very slowly, as if the cat was on the bed, but began to increase and had to run to the door,” he said. “The earthquake lasted about two minutes.”
In 2011, Christchurch was devastated by an earthquake in 2011. At that time, a 6.3 magnitude earthquake killed 185 people and left thousands injured.
Christchurch has a population of 340,000 people, according to the latest official census.
New Zealand is regularly affected by earthquakes because it is in a “collision zone” between the Indo-Australian and Pacific tectonic plates.
It is part of the “Ring of Fire” Pacific, an area where many earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are recorded.
Prelim M6.2 earthquake South Island of New Zealand Nov-14 00:34 UTC, updates https://t.co/erHgUlrgmy
— USGS Big Quakes (@USGSBigQuakes) November 14, 2016