EARTHQUAKES

Powerful earthquake off New Zealand triggers small tsunami, but no reports of major damage

The 7.1 magnitude quake struck off the North Island of New Zealand, jolting residents awake

PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 September, 2016, 1:22am
UPDATED : Friday, 02 September, 2016, 7:45am

A strong magnitude-7.1 earthquake rattled the coast of New Zealand’s North Island on Friday morning, triggering a small tsunami and shaking items from shelves but not causing any major damage or injuries.

The quake struck just over 160km northeast of the city of Gisborne at a depth of 19km, according to the United States Geological Survey. It was widely felt throughout the North Island and was followed by a series of aftershocks.

Bill Martin, the owner of a holiday park in Te Araroa, a remote coastal community that was among those most affected by the quake, told The Associated Press he was woken by the jolt a little before

“It was very violent,” he said. “It lasted maybe about 10 seconds but it seemed like an eternity.”

Martin said the quake sent some of his household ornaments crashing from their shelves and knocked over bottles.

“I watched the pantry do the rock and roll,” he said. “There were at least four aftershocks that were reasonably strong as well.”

He said many residents drove up to into the hills after emergency management authorities issued a tsunami warning. That warning was later cancelled. Authorities reported detecting tsunami waves of about 30 centimetres.

Martin said the quakes caused plenty of turbulence in the ocean, but not any large waves. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii did not issue any wider tsunami warnings for the region.

The quake came a day after a magnitude-5.7 quake registered in the same area, 100km northeast of Te Araroa.

New Zealand sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” an arc of seismic faults around the Pacific Ocean where earthquakes are common. A 2011 earthquake in the city of Christchurch killed 185 people and caused extensive damage. In 2007, a 6.7 magnitude quake struck near Gisborne and caused millions of dollars worth of damage.

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A recent magnitude 6.2 quake in central Italy killed hundreds of people and demolished entire villages.

The Chilean Navy said it did not expect a tsunami from Friday’s quake to reach the coast of the South American nation.

The USGS originally reported Friday’s quake as a 7.2 magnitude but later downgraded it to 7.1.

New Zealand media reported some power outages in the east coast region.