Shocking footage of a huge wave surge hitting New Zealand’s coast has emerged after four earthquakes rocked the nation’s north.
A fourth major earthquake has rocked New Zealand this morning as shocking footage emerges of a huge wave surge hitting the North Island’s coast.
This morning, coastal residents in the region were told to move immediately to higher ground after four earthquakes off the nation’s coast.
However, the threat level has been downgraded and evacuees are now able to return home, as authorities say the largest waves have now passed.
Shocking video footage from earlier in the day shows huge wave surges already hitting areas like Tokomaru Bay on the East Coast.
A magnitude 8.1 earthquake struck off the Kermadec Islands, 1000km northeast of New Zealand, at 8.28am local time (6.28am AEDT).
Late this morning there has been a fourth aftershock at the Kermadec Islands. This one has been measured as 6.2 in magnitude and struck at a depth of 10km at 12:12pm local time.
Following the third earthquake, the most powerful of the four, residents were warned they should head for higher ground.
“People near coast from the Bay of Islands to Whangarei, from Matata to Tolaga Bay, and Great Barrier Island must move immediately to nearest high ground, out of all tsunami evacuation zones, or as far inland as possible,” the National Emergency Management Agency alerted at 8.45am (7.45am).
The National Emergency Management Authority said residents must evacuate these areas even if they did not feel the earthquake. “DO NOT WAIT. A damaging tsunami is possible.”
New Zealand’s Emergency Minister said messages from Civil Defence regarding the risk of tsunami overrode coronavirus advice and restrictions.
However, as of this afternoon, the threat level has been downgraded and evacuees are now able to return home, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has announced.
GNS Science has advised that the largest waves have now passed.
A Beach and Marine threat now applies to all areas previously under a Land and Marine threat – however, NEMA says there is “still danger” and locals in these areas should stay away from the beach and shoreline.
WARNING FOR AUSTRALIA’S NORFOLK ISLAND
Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology also issued a marine tsunami warning for Norfolk Island, although land areas are not expected to be affected.
Hundreds of residents fled their homes earlier today, workplaces and schools to get to higher ground, with reports of chaos in towns such as Whangarei and Whakatane.
A central Whangarei worker said it was packed in town as people tried to evacuate. “[There were] heaps of people standing on the street outside their workplaces.”
A 7.4 quake struck near Raoul Island in the Kermadecs at 6.41am (NZT) and many New Zealanders were shaken awake by a magnitude 7.3 quake off the North Island’s east coast at 2.27am.
Both of these earlier quakes triggered Civil Defence tsunami warnings that were later lifted.
PEOPLE TOLD TO WALK, NOT RUN
A tsunami alert was sent out in the Whangārei suburb of Onerahi.
People were being told to walk, run or cycle if possible to reduce chance of getting stuck in traffic.
According to USGS the latest quake to hit off the Kermedec Islands was magnitude 8.1 and 19.4km deep.
Ōhope resident Leslie Peake said traffic was “bumper to bumper” all the way down the main drag Harbour Rd and there were “huge queues of people evacuating”.
She said the mood was highly “stressful” and she and her husband would not be getting to higher ground for a while as they waited in traffic.
Hills across the town were “full” with people seen sitting at the top looking out at the ocean, she said.
She said she had been in her bedroom when she received the alert and saw it pop up on the television so she and her husband loaded up their car with their cat and dog.
“We thought maybe we should get moving.”
This morning’s quake had been really strong where Peake was and she said it had been “really rocking and rolling” and “went on for ages”.
“It was really rattling for some time.”