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Tsunami warning after 7.1m earthquake strikes Te Araroa in North Island

 The National Emergency Managment Agency has issued a tsunami warning for New Zealand coastal areas following a magnitude 7.1 quake off the East Cape.

The National Emergency Managment Agency says people near the coast from Cape Runaway to Tolaga Bay should move immediately to the nearest high ground, out of tsunami evacuation zones, or as far inland as possible.

They should not return until an official all-clear message is given by Civil Defence.

Geonet reported the 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck near 95km east of Te Araroa, in the North Island, at 2.27am, causing 'severe' shaking. It was originally reported as a 7.4m quake, then downgraded.

The intensity of the quake was described as severe.

The quake was felt across New Zealand, with people in Auckland, Wellington and even Christchurch reporting the shaking.

Listen to latest reports on Newstalk ZB:

Civil Defence is warning anyone who lives on the coast and felt a long or strong quake to get to higher ground immediately.

It says the evacuation advice overrides current Covid-19 alert level requirements.

The National Emergency Management Agency said in a statement on its website that coastal inundation (flooding of land areas) is expected on the East Coast of the North Island from Cape Runaway to Tolaga Bay.

Strong and unusual currents and unpredictable surges near the shore were expected in all other coastal areas of the North and South Islands, Great Barrier Island and Stewart Island.
This means a threat to beach, harbour, estuary and small boat activities.

It said the first waves could reach New Zealand in the areas around East Cape about 3:34am.

"The severity of currents and surges will vary within a particular coastal area and over the period this warning is in effect.

"The first wave may not be the largest.

"Tsunami activity will continue for several hours and the threat must be regarded as real until this warning is cancelled."

Fire and Emergency NZ had this morning implemented tsunami procedures across eastern coastal regions as a precaution.

Central region second in charge Belinda Beets said they were advising people who felt the long and strong quake to move to higher ground.

Coastal fire brigades in the central region were moving their resources out of any potential danger zone.

"We're moving our resources inland. We've always got to be ready," she said.

The National Emergency Management Agency says people in coastal areas should:

* Listen to the radio and/or TV for updates, and NZCivilDefence Twitter;

* Listen to local Civil Defence authorities;

* Stay out of the water (sea, rivers and estuaries, this includes boats);

* Stay off beaches and shore areas;

* Do not go sightseeing;

* Share this information with family, neighbours and friends.

People on the East Coast can check if they're in a tsunami zone here: http://www.gdc.govt.nz/tsunami-evacuation-maps/

According to Napier FB pages, some people there are heading inland. Traffic has been observed heading through Taradale to Dolbel Reserve.

The first earthquake was followed by four others, a 5, 4.5, 5.2 and 4.7 - also centred about 120km of the East Cape.

"She was a beauty, it really shook. I'm quite frightened, I've got no idea if there's going to be a tsunami, it was massive," Rex from Gisborne told Newstalk ZB's Bruce Russell, adding he had not heard any warning alarms after the shake.

"It's the biggest I've felt in a long, long time and I'm 80."

One Twitter user from Wellington described the first earthquake as "terrifying".

In tears on Newstalk ZB, Helen in the Chatham Islands said: "It's the biggest one I've ever felt. It went on and on and on. I'm in the old stone house and I didn't know where to stand because it's all rock. I've never felt one so big - it must be massive across New Zealand. It died down and then went on and on again."

Janice in Napier told the station: "I'm still shaking. I was lying in bed ... and the next minute, the quake comes in and it lasted for ages. The biggest one I've felt. This was one jolt and it kept going. I eventually got up and sat under the doorway, oh my God."

And Eric in Manawatu said: "It woke me up. It was a rattle, and the house was swaying a bit. But it went on and on - it kept going. It wouldn't stop. I thought, OK what's next?"

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has posted on Instagram: " Hope everyone is ok out there - especially on the East Coast who would have felt the full force of that earthquake"

Beck Vass said on Twitter it "was very long and wobbly in Tauranga".

By 3.15am more than 60,000 people had reported feeling the quake via Geonet's website.

Some people on social media reported feeling the quake as far as Dunedin and Greymouth.

Director general of health Ashley Bloomfield was also woken by the quake and shared advice on Twitter from Civil Defence.

A note on the Napier City Council Facebook page says:

LONG OR STRONG, GET GONE: People near the coast who felt a LONG OR STRONG earthquake that made it hard to stand up, or lasted longer than a minute, should MOVE IMMEDIATELY to the nearest high ground, out of all tsunami evacuation zones, or as far inland as possible.

This evacuation advice overrides the current COVID-19 Alert Level requirements. Do not stay at home if you are near the coast and felt the earthquake LONG or STRONG. Evacuate immediately to the nearest high ground, out of all tsunami evacuation zones or as far inland as possible. Stay 2 metres away from others if you can and it is safe to do so.

Do not return until an official all-clear message is given by Civil Defence.

Walk, run or cycle if at all possible to reduce the chances of getting stuck in traffic congestion.

If a tsunami has been generated, the first wave may not be the most significant. Tsunami activity will continue for several hours and the threat is real until this warning is cancelled.

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