Powerful earthquakes trigger Pacific-wide tsunami alerts, mass evacuations ordered
The residents living in the coastal areas of New Zealand, New Caledonia, and Vanuatu, left their homes for safer higher-ground areas after a series of powerful earthquakes triggered Pacific-wide tsunami alerts. In Noumea, New Caledonia, sirens were sounded amid fears that waves as high as three meter were approaching. As per the latest reports, New Zealand has now downgraded its tsunami warning.
High-magnitude earthquakes hit the region
New Zealand was jolted by three powerful earthquakes. The first one, measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale, struck about 900 kilometer away on the east of the North Island with thousands of locals experiencing it. This sparked a tsunami warning, which was subsequently lifted. A 7.4 magnitude earthquake struck later. The third and most powerful earthquake's magnitude was 8.1.
Do not stay at home: Agency told residents
Soon, New Zealand's National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) sounded a tsunami warning, underlining that the areas facing threat were from the Bay of Islands to Whangarei, from Matata to Tolaga Bay including Whakatane and Opotiki, and Great Barrier Island. NEMA urged people living in high-risk zones to move to the nearest high grounds. "DO NOT STAY AT HOME, (sic)" the agency wrote on Twitter.
Locals followed guidelines, rushed to safer areas
Linda Tatare, who lives in Anaura Bay, along the North Island's east coast, informed Reuters that her small community of about 50 people followed the instructions. "Everyone, and their dogs, are up in the hills. We are safe. We can all see our properties from here," she said. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern posted on Instagram about the earthquakes and hoped that everyone is safe.
Hope everyone is ok out there: Ardern
Largest waves have passed, people can return: NEMA
Subsequently, the PM put out another update to inform that the largest waves have passed. NEMA also tweeted, "GNS Science has advised that the largest waves have now passed, and therefore the threat level is now downgraded to a Beach and Marine threat for all areas which were previously under Land and Marine threat. All people who evacuated can now return. (sic)"
The advisory for Kermadec Islands Region was canceled
Warning was also issued in Hawaii
Notably, warnings were also issued in Hawaii and in American Samoa but they were later canceled. Meanwhile, the Bureau of Meteorology in Australia observed approximately two feet high tsunami waves at remote Norfolk Island, reports CNN. The 8.1 magnitude earthquake was the most powerful one to hit the world after August 2018, when an 8.2-magnitude earthquake had jolted the South Pacific, near Fiji.