At Least 2 Dead in Powerful New Zealand Earthquakes

2-dead-nz-quake

A series of powerful earthquakes jolted New Zealand’s South Island Monday, triggering a tsunami and sending aftershocks across the country that left at least two dead, officials said.

The first event, a 7.8-magnitude quake, struck just after midnight Monday near the coastal community of Kaikoura, some 93 kilometers (55 miles) northeast of the city of Christchurch, the US Geological Survey reported.

It triggered waves of 2.49 meters (8 feet) above usual tide levels, the highest New Zealand had seen in at least 38 years, Philip Duncan of Weather Watch New Zealand said.

An initial tsunami warning was lifted but temblors continued Monday afternoon. A 6.2-magnitude quake struck around 1:30 p.m. 39 kilometers west-southwest of Kaikoura, further north of Christchurch.

New Zealand is a South Pacific nation of islands, the two largest being the North and South islands, which are home to most of the population. Aftershocks from South Island reverberated all the way to Wellington, the country’s capital on the North Island, where residents were told to stay indoors Monday.

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SOURCE: CNN, Angela Dewan, Emanuella Grinberg and Donie O’Sullivan