New Zealand offshore quake: temporary evacuation at coastal areas

Updated: 00:00 GMT, Jan 1, 1970 | Published: 10:47 GMT, Sep 2, 2016 |

People living in coastal areas of New Zealand closest to a huge earthquake that struck offshore early on Friday (September 2) were temporarily ordered to evacuate due to fears of a tsunami.

The magnitude 7.1 quake struck at 4:37 a.m. (1637 GMT) at a depth of 55 km (34 miles), 130 km north-east of Te Araroa, off the North Island, according to government earthquake detection service Geonet.

“It was pretty big and shaky and it was actually rocking my whole bed and the whole room, everything and stuff was falling,” said one witness.

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.

“I laid there like a stunned mullet for a bit just thinking, ok this is going to stop in a second, any second now, but it just felt like it kept going and going,” added another witness.

“You could just hear so much commotion outside, then cars, you could hear cars starting up and cruising off, so we started to get ourselves ready,” said a witness.

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