Magnitude-7.8 earthquake rocks New Zealand

Tsunami strikes, raises fear of more to come

A powerful earthquake struck hours ago in New Zealand near the city of Christchurch, with strong tremors causing damage to buildings in the capital, Wellington, over 200 kilometers (120 miles) away.

Authorities have issued a tsunami warning, urging people near the coast of the South Island to move to “higher ground.”

According to reports, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there was no immediate danger of a broader tsunami from the magnitude-7.8 quake.

With reports just in, the first tsunami struck the northeastern coast of the country a short while ago, according to New Zealand authorities.  It is feared that the first wave may not be the strongest, and that bigger waves could strike for hours to come.

While there have been no reports of major damage or casualties in Christchurch, in Wellington, 214 kilometers north of the quake’s epicenter, power was knocked out in some places, and there were shattered windows and collapsed chimneys.

The powerful quake, which was at a relatively shallow depth of 5 -10 kilometers, making it felt more intensely, occurred just after midnight Sunday EST, striking 93 kilometers northeast of Christchurch, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The tremor had initially been estimated at 7.4 before being upgraded to 7.8.

The last earthquake to strike Christchurch was in 2011, which destroyed much of the city and killed 185 people.

New Zealand sits on an arc of seismic faults called the  “Ring of Fire” around the Pacific Ocean where earthquakes are common.

 Sources: NYT, RT