New Zealand and nearby tourist hotspots Fiji and Vanuatu have been put on alert over tsunami waves from the quake which struck north of New Zealand at 1.50pm BST. In its latest alert to national authorities, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre warned waves are expected hit Fiji, Kermadec Islands, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Tonga and Vanuatu.
Preliminary data from the organisation says the 7.4 magnitude quake struck south of the Kermadec Islands, which are around 800–1,000 km northeast of New Zealand's North Island.
According to the US Geological Survey, the quake’s epicentre is around 685 km northeast of Opotiki, a town on New Zealand’s North Island.
Immediately after the quake struck an alert was issued as part of the UNESCO/IOC Pacific Tsunami warning and mitigation system which said: “Hazardous tsunami waves from this earthquake are possible within 300km of the epicentre."
The warning adds governments should inform and instruct any coastal populations.
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Initial forecasts say tsunami waves will be around 0.3 metres above tide level.
Immediately following the earthquake, New Zealand’s emergency management agency issued a statement saying it was assessing the earthquake’s threat to the nation.
The National Emergency Management Agency tweeted: “We are assessing whether the M7.4 SOUTH OF THE KERMADEC ISLANDS earthquake at @@EventTime@@ has created a tsunami that could affect New Zealand.
“We will provide an update as soon as the initial assessment has been completed.”
It has since concluded, "the earthquake is unlikely to have caused a tsunami that will pose a threat to New Zealand".
New Zealand is situated on the seismic hotspot known as the Ring of Fire which runs around the Pacific Ocean.
More to follow.
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