AUCKLAND (AFP): New Zealanders were jolted awake by a 6.9-magnitude earthquake off the North Island Friday, triggering a brief tsunami warning but no reports of damage or injuries.
The quake hit 180 kilometres (111 miles) northeast of the city of Gisborne at 2:27 am (1327 Thursday GMT), at a relatively shallow depth of 10 kilometres, US Geological Survey said.
It was widely felt across the North Island, with more than 50,000 people lodging online notifications with the local Geonet monitoring service.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center initially issued an alert for areas of New Zealand’s North Island, but later said the threat had passed. “Tsunami waves reaching 0.3-1.0 metres (12-39 inches) are possible,” the Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center had said earlier.
As a precaution, New Zealand’s National Emergency Management Authority warned residents north of Gisborne to head to higher ground but later rescinded the alert. “Based on current scientific advice and information from coastal tsunami gauges there is no longer a threat to land areas,” it said.
“People who have evacuated can now return home.” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was among those given an early morning wake-up.
“Hope everyone is ok out there — especially on the East Coast who would have felt the full force of that earthquake,” she posted on Instagram.
New Zealand sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, where tectonic plates collide and experiences frequent seismic and volcanic activity.
The South Pacific nation recently marked the 10th anniversary of the Christchurch earthquake, when a 6.3 tremor resulted in 185 deaths in the South Island city.