A third powerful earthquake has sparked fresh tsunami warnings after striking off the coast of New Zealand within hours of two other large tremors in the South Pacific.
Thousands were told to evacuate on Friday morning local time following the 8.1 magnitude quake.
Authorities in New Zealand told residents in certain areas on the East Coast of the North Island to leave their homes and immediately move to higher ground, amid warnings of a possible damaging tsunami.
The US Tsunami Warning System said the third quake could cause tsunami waves of between one to thre metres in French Polynesia and waves of up to one metre in Niue, New Caledonia and the Solomon Islands.
Authorities said the first waves would arrive on New Zealand‘s north shores by about 9.45am local time (8.45pm GMT).
National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said areas under threat were from the Bay of Islands to Whangarei, from Matata to Tolaga Bay including Whakatane and Opotiki, and the Great Barrier Island.
The 8.1 quake was the largest in a series of tremors that struck the region over several hours, including two earlier tremors that registered magnitude 7.4 and magnitude 7.3.
The largest earthquake took place in the ocean around the Kermadec Islands, which sit hundreds of kilometres off the coast of New Zealand‘s North Island.