New Zealand has lifted the tsunami advisory that was issued after three massive earthquakes struck off the coast of the country.
The national emergency agency had warned of a tsunami threat along the east coast and thousands were told to evacuate on Friday morning after wave surges hit parts of the country following an 8.1 magnitude earthquake in the Kermadec Islands.
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 a magnitude of over seven. So far, there have been no reports of fatalities or injuries, reported 9 News.
Around 3 pm local time, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) tweeted saying the threat level had been “cancelled” and a little after that, the entire national advisory was lifted, reported the NZHerald.
The evacuated residents were told that they could return home but the authorities advised that people should stay away from the coast as the strong current and unpredictable surges may continue for several hours.
“Coastal inundation (flooding of land areas near the shore) is no longer expected as a result of this event,” NEMA said in a statement. “We are advising people to move out of the water, do not go to the coast to watch the unusual wave activity.”
New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern posted on Instagram: “Hope everyone is ok out there.”
While the earlier tsunami warning in the region had been called off, the third quake prompted NEMA to send out a new alert.
A magnitude 7.2 earthquake that struck the country’s east coast was felt around the North Island overnight. It was followed by a 7.4 magnitude earthquake near the Kermadecs that triggered a tsunami warning, which was later cancelled. But the third, larger quake in the same region prompted a new warning.
Friday’s earthquake was the largest to strike anywhere in the world since August of 2018, when an 8.2-magnitude quake struck in the South Pacific, near Fiji. According to scientists, the tremors were caused by tectonic movement on the boundary of the Australian and Pacific plates, part of the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire that New Zealand sits on.