A series of powerful earthquakes shook the island of New Zealand Monday, triggering a tsunami and sending replicas across the country that left at least two dead, officials said.
The first event, a tremor of magnitude 7.8, struck just after midnight Monday near the coastal community of Kaikoura, about 93 miles (55 miles) northeast of the city of Christchurch, the US Geological Survey reported .
He triggered waves of 2.49 meters (8 feet) above the usual tide levels, the highest he has seen in his 38-year-old New Zealand, Philip Duncan of Weather Watch New Zealand said.
A first tsunami warning was lifted, but the storms continued on Monday afternoon. A magnitude 6.2 earthquake struck around 13:30, 39 kilometers west-southwest of Kaikoura, further north of Christchurch.
Prime Minister John Key published a short video on YouTube after examining the damage.
I visited Kaikoura this afternoon to see how locals are coping after today’s earthquake & see first-hand the damage.https://t.co/AguYWcE2hU
“It’s hard to see how these roads, neither the north nor the south, will be open very easily,” he said.
“In the short term, what we are trying to do is make sure that people in Kaikoura and others have food, water, help and support.
“I would say that it is billions of dollars of money that we have to spend here, but we are focused on what we are doing and we will continue the good work.
At least 42 seismic events were recorded in the area on the last day, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).
Last 48 hours in NZ in 30 seconds. #eqnz
All quakes above magnitude of 2.
New Zealand is a nation of the South Pacific islands, the two largest being the northern and southern islands, home to the majority of the population.
The replicas of the South Island reverberated to Wellington, the capital of the country on the North Island, where residents were asked to stay inside on Monday.
Guests of the Amora Hotel in Wellington gather in a parking lot after fleeing their rooms.
The New Zealand Defense Force posted aerial images of a huge landslide in the northern part of the South Island, which blocked the road from Christchurch to Kaikoura.
“It is clear from the photos taken by our staff that the main road from Christchurch to Kaikoura is impassable,” said Air Commodore Darryn Webb, acting commander of the New Zealand Armed Forces.
“So is the road from Kaikoura to Hanmer Springs and that from Blenheim to Kaikoura,”
Emergency services inspect a bridge that crosses the Waiau River, 110 km north of Christchurch, as damage and landslides cause infrastructure disruptions following an earthquake of magnitude 7.5.
The Twitter account of the Marlborough Emergency Department government tweeted around 4:00 pm (11:00 am ET), a dam on the Clarence River broke and a “big water wall” Downstream. The authorities urged residents to look for higher ground.
Slip dam on Clarence River has breached, large wall of water heading downstream. Residents urged to go to higher ground IMMEDIATELY #eqnz
The regional government also confirmed that a group of kayakers who had already been feared to disappear on the river was found and evacuated.
Group of kayakers thought missing on Clarence River are safe after being evacuated from river earlier today: https://t.co/5wpp851CsA #Eqnz
“Other groups are included in the area, a well known rafting site, but it is understood that they are well above the danger zone,” says a press release.
In Christchurch, memories of an earthquake of magnitude 6.3 devastating in 2011 are still fresh for many. The earthquake killed 185 people and injured thousands, and reduced the bands of the city’s historic area to rubble.
Damage on Wellington Street after the earthquake.
“The land was very peaceful for several months. This brings us all the rare memories, “said Chet Wah, owner of Designer Cottage B & B in Christchurch.
“I just checked with all the guests, they’re fine, it’s scary, it’s going to be a long night.
Christchurch, on the east coast of the South Island, has a population of more than 340,000, according to the most recent census.
remember to drop, cover and hold in any quakes – aftershocks will continue. stay safe. #eqnz pic.twitter.com/PXnsvOF63S
Mary Kimber stands in her kitchen after the earthquake on 14 November 2016.
Images on social networks show broken windows, stolen grocery items on the floor of a supermarket and slippery water back and forth in pools from different parts of the country.
Mark A’Court, owner of Fresh Choice in Nelson City, posted security videos on Facebook showing bottles of wine falling from his store shelves.
A large crack formed on the road from Kaikoura north of Christchurch.
“It’s the strongest [earthquake] I’ve ever felt,” said Tamara Hunt. She was with her husband at their home in Whanganui when the earthquake struck.
“It started so small, like the cat moving in bed, but then it started to build and I had to run to the door.” Things in the house were falling and the doors swayed really bad, she.
“So we decided to go out, and that’s when we saw our pool had lost a lot of water. The earthquake lasted for two minutes.”
The South Island was hit by a burst of replicas, according to the USGS and the New Zealand Geonet service, some with an amplitude above 6.0. Officials from the second largest city on the island, Dunedin, called the state of emergency.
Residents around the epicenter reported shaking for minutes sending grocery items from shelves.
The USGS first reported the magnitude of the earthquake at 7.4 at a depth of only 10 kilometers – quite shallow to cause severe damage to the immediate surrounding area.
He then revised the force of the earthquake to 7.8, but changed its depth to 23 kilometers (14.2 miles), giving more than one buffer between the epicenter and the Earth’s surface.
The first wave may not be the most important. The tsunami activity will continue for several hours. #eqnz
New Zealand is regularly affected by earthquakes because it is in a “collision zone” between Indo-Australian and Pacific tectonic plates. It is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, a horseshoe shaped belt around the edges of the ocean where many earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur.