Powerful quake hits near New Zealand; tsunami warning issued


M 6.9 – 178 km NE of Gisborne, New Zealand (Credit: U.S. Geological Survey)

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Officials in New Zealand issued a tsunami warning for coastal areas after a shallow, powerful earthquake struck off its northeastern coast on Thursday night. There were no immediate reports of serious damage or casualties.

New Zealand’s National Emergency Management Agency warned of a tsunami threat along the east of the country’s North Island following the magnitude 7.3 quake.

The U.S. Tsunami Warning System predicted waves of 0.3 to 1 meter (1 to 3.3 feet), but later said the threat had passed.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was centered at a depth of 20.8 kilometers (13 miles) under the ocean about 174 kilometers (108 miles) northeast of the city of Gisborne. Residents of Gisborne reported light to moderate shaking, it said.

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

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