WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — A powerful earthquake struck New Zealand near the city of Christchurch early Monday, with strong jolts causing some damage to buildings over 200 kilometers (120 miles) away in the capital, Wellington.
AP reports: New Zealand emergency services warned that a tsunami was possible and told people near the coast of the South Island to move to higher ground. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there was no immediate danger of a broader tsunami from the magnitude-7.4 quake.
In Wellington, 214 kilometers (132 miles) north of the quake’s epicenter, power was knocked out in some places, and some windows smashed and some chimneys collapsed.
There were no immediate reports of any major damage or injuries in Christchurch.
The quake, which struck just after midnight Sunday, was centered 93 kilometers (57 miles) northeast of Christchurch, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It was at a relatively shallow depth of 10 kilometers (6 miles). Earthquakes tend to be more strongly felt on the surface when they’re shallow.
The quake brought back memories of a 2011 earthquake that struck Christchurch, destroying much of the city and killing 185 people. But Monday’s quake was much farther away from any major population centers.
New Zealand sits on the “Ring of Fire,” an arc of seismic faults around the Pacific Ocean where earthquakes are common.
BBC reports: The tsunami arrived in the north-eastern coast about two hours later. Officials said the first waves may not be the largest, with tsunami activity possible for several hours.
Residents were warned to head inland or for higher ground along the coast.
A gauge at Kaikoura, 181 km (112 miles) north of Christchurch, measured a wave of two metres (6ft 5ins), according to Weatherwatch.co.nz.
Smaller waves are said to be arriving in Wellington and other areas, the website said.
Residents in the Chatham Islands, an archipelago 423 miles (680km) south-east of the mainland, were also being warned a wave would hit imminently by the civil defence.
New Zealand lies on the notorious Ring of Fire, the line of frequent quakes and volcanic eruptions that circles virtually the entire Pacific rim.
Christchurch is still recovering from the 2011 earthquake that killed 185 people and destroyed the city centre.
The Herald newspaper said the tremor was felt all the way to Wellington, where sirens sounded and people fled buildings into the streets, some of them crying.
Early reports suggest some houses in Cheviot town, near the epicentre, have been damaged.
But contrary to reports by the US Geological Survey, New Zealand’s GeoNetsuggests the earthquake may have been only a 6.6 magnitude tremor.
A resident of Christchurch said the tremor lasted a “long” time.
AFP reports: “We were asleep and woken to the house shaking, it kept going and going and felt like it was going to build up,” she told AFP news agency.
On Twitter, Hayley Colgan described it as “the the most terrifying earthquake I think I’ve felt in my 23 years in New Zealand”.
A magnitude-7.1 quake struck 169km (105 miles) north-east of Gisborne on the North Island in September, sparking a tsunami warning. It caused some damage to property, but no injuries.