Earthquake Off New Zealand Prompts Evacuation

An earthquake, measuring magnitude 7.1, struck off the northeast coast of New Zealand, prompting a coastal evacuation.

People living in coastal areas of New Zealand closest to a huge earthquake that struck offshore early on Friday were temporarily ordered to evacuate due to fears of a tsunami.

The magnitude 7.1 quake struck at 4:37 a.m. local time (16:37 GMT) at a depth of 55 km (34 miles), 130 km northeast of Te Araroa, off the North Island, according to government earthquake detection service Geonet.

People in and around the town of Gisborne, the largest populated area nearest the epicentre, were told to get to higher ground or go as far inland as they could in case the shock caused a freak wave.

The evacuation order and tsunami warning were lifted a few hours later.

Authorities in Gisborne said people could return home but were “strongly advised” to stay off the beaches.

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