7.4 Magnitude Earthquake Rocks New Zealand Coast, Sparks Tsunami Warning

Lorenz Duchamps
By Lorenz Duchamps
June 18, 2020Worldshare
7.4 Magnitude Earthquake Rocks New Zealand Coast, Sparks Tsunami Warning
People walk their dogs on the Kermadec Islands despite warnings of a tidal surge and strong currents in New Zealand. (Phil Walter/File Photo via Getty Images)

A major earthquake struck off the coast of New Zealand Thursday night at 12:49 UTC, sparking a tsunami warning, which was later reported to be “no threat.”

The quake had a preliminary magnitude of 7.4 and struck south of the Kermadec Island with a depth of 20 miles, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

The Kermadec Islands is a subtropical island in the South Pacific Ocean around 497 to 621 miles northeast of New Zealand’s North Island.

The epicenter of the quake was located about 435 miles northeast of Opotiki, a town on North Island, USGS said. There was no immediate report of any damage or injuries.

There has been a warning by the UNESCO/IOC Pacific Tsunami alert system that said, “Hazardous tsunami waves from this earthquake are possible within 300km of the epicenter.”

However, New Zealand’s Civil Defence later downgraded the alert at 1:37 a.m. local time with “no tsunami threat for New Zealand” or Australia and said anyone who might have evacuated the area can return home.

The agency did urge people to be aware in the eastern coastal areas that stronger surges and currents are expected.

NTD Photo
A map showing the location of the 7.4 magnitude earthquake just off the coast of New Zealand on June 18, 2020. (USGS)

According to Geonet, over 8,000 people felt the quake, but most of the reports described weak to moderate shaking.

New Zealand lies on the seismically active “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and ocean trenches spanning about 25,000 miles and girdling much of the Pacific Ocean.

The city of Christchurch is still recovering from a 6.3 magnitude quake in 2011 that killed 185 people.

In 2016, a 7.8 magnitude tremor hit the South Island town of Kaikoura, killing two and causing billions of dollars worth of damage, including in Wellington.

That quake was felt by about 37,000 people on Geonet’s app.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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