New Zealand: 7.3 magnitude earthquake sparks tsunami warning

New Zealand’s National Emergency Management Agency is assessing the threat

Tolaga Bay Wharf, East Cape, New Zealand.This is the longest Wharf in New Zealand at 660 metres long. Getty Images
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New Zealand officials have confirmed that a 7.3 magnitude earthquake has triggered a tsunami that could lead to coastal flooding.

The New Zealand Civil Defence urged the public in coastal areas to move to higher ground after the powerful earthquake struck the north-east of the country. The tremor lasted between 45-50 seconds, local press reported.

The National Emergency Management Agency also warned residents that the first wave would likely not be the largest and that tsunami activity would continue for several hours.

According to Geonet, a website funded by the Earthquake Commission and GNS Science, 52,000 people in the country felt the earthquake. Local news reported hundreds of people leaving Hawke's Bay and Gisbourne for safety.

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern posted a map showing the impacted areas on social media.

"Hope everyone is ok out there - especially on the East Coast who would have felt the full force of that earthquake."

The new tsunami guidelines from Nema override New Zealand's Covid-19 restrictions on gatherings and apply to areas from Cape Runaway to Tolaga Bay.

Nema advised residents on the coast to move inland and to higher ground while keeping as far away from others as possible.