Residents on New Zealand’s coast were warned to head to higher ground immediately over the threat of a tsunami after a strong earthquake struck off the country’s North Island and caused severe shaking.
The 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck 147 miles northeast of Gisborne, New Zealand, at 2:27 a.m. Friday (8:27 a.m. EST), according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
New Zealand’s National Emergency Management Agency issued a tsunami warning shortly after the earthquake. About 5 a.m., the agency said in an update, “Based on current scientific advice and information from coastal tsunami gauges there is no longer a threat to land areas. People who have evacuated can now return home.”
Earlier the Emergency Management Agency had warned residents from Cape Runaway to Tolaga Bay to move to higher ground. Hundreds of people sought shelter in a school on higher ground above Hawke’s Bay on the central coast of North Island, TV New Zealand reported.
Gisborne Mayor Rehette Stoltz told TV New Zealand, “I’ve heard reports of little bits of damage, nothing major at this stage.” Crews will check for damage to buildings, roads and pipes in the city, Stoltz said.