- Powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake shocks New Zealand early Monday around 12.00am local time
- At least two people dead with others injured
- Epicentre near Hanmer Springs, 91km north of Christchurch
- Tsunami warnings issued with locals ordered to evacuate their homes
Still recovering from the devastating 6.3 magnitude earthquake five years ago, New Zealand has been rocked again as a 7.8 deadly earthquake has occurred triggering strong aftershocks, a tsunami and killing at least two people.
The Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management said the quake hit just after midnight local time on Monday, the epicentre striking near Hanmer Springs, 91km north of Christchurch.
Since the tremor, more than 250 aftershocks have been recorded including three over a magnitude of six in just 12 hours. Scientists have predicted that due to the severity of the quake, these aftershocks may be felt for up to several months into the future.
Soon after, a tsunami struck the northeastern coast, with irregular waves reportedly reaching as high as two meters being recorded around the city of Kaikoura. Smaller waves were also reported in Wellington and other locations along the coast.
A nationwide tsunami threat was issued forcing residents out of their homes to find higher ground. The warning has since been downgraded however authorities are cautioning that high waves could still hit the South Island’s northeast coast.
New Zealand is currently in recovery mode assessing the extent of the damage to the CBD, roads, schools and the areas that were hit hard including Wellington and Christchurch.
It has been reported that the small North Canterbury town of Waiau has been one of the worst hit with power and phone lines cut and the main roads and bridge in the town destroyed.
However, although badly hit, the extent of the damage could have been much worse if the quake had occurred during peak day time instead of during the night.
Busy roads that have been torn in half were relatively empty at midnight when the quake struck, something that wouldn’t happen during the day as hundreds of commuters travel on those roads daily.
While the physical clean up has begun, the quake has also had repercussions on those sitting final NCEA exams, with delays being announced and scholarship exams called off until further notice.
The occurrence of this earthquake is similar to the previous tremor that occurred in January 2011 and resulted in the death of 185 people and sparking a clean up that lasted months after the disaster.
This is a reminder of what is to come as the nation moves into recovery mode and works together to rebuild what has been damaged.