New Zealand Lifts Tsunami Warning After Offshore Earthquake

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New Zealand lifted a tsunami warning for the north coast of the North Island issued earlier Friday after a severe earthquake.

“Based on all available data, the greatest tsunami activity has now passed,” the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management said in a statement. “However, coasts may still experience unusual, strong currents and sea level fluctuations lasting for several more hours.”

Officials told people to stay off beaches and out of the sea after a 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck off the east coast near Te Araroa at 4:38 a.m. local time. The warning initially extended to the whole the nation’s east coast but was progressively reduced to a smaller band from Mahia Peninsula to North Cape, which included Auckland, the nation’s most populous city.

Waves as high as 30 centimeters (1 foot) were generated near East Cape, the ministry said. Flooding of land areas near the shore is not expected.

The earthquake was 31 kilometers (19 miles) deep and has been followed by several aftershocks above magnitude 5. 

Residents of some small coastal towns evacuated their homes and gathered on high ground as a precaution, Newshub reported. There were no reports of damage.

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