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Strong 7.4 magnitude earthquake hits New Zealand, tsunami warning issued

The USGS reported that the Sunday’s quake struck at a depth of 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) shallow enough for the tremor to be felt significantly at the earth's surface

A powerful 7.4-magnitude earthquake rocked New Zealand late Sunday, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS). The quake’s epicentre was about 50 km (31 miles) northwest of Christchurch city which has a population of over 340,000 people, according to the most recent government census.

The USGS reported that the Sunday’s quake struck at a depth of 10 kilometres (6.2 miles), shallow enough for the tremor to be felt significantly at the earth’s surface. The earthquake has hit North Canterbury and was felt as far away as Auckland.

The Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management of New Zealand has issued a tsunami warning saying that the threat is for the eastern coast of the south island and anyone near the east coast of the south island should move to high ground.The quake was strongly felt in Christchurch, Wellington, Taranaki, Hamilton and Auckland.

According to reports from Wellington, hundreds of people are on the streets after building alarms went off. Windows in some high-rise office buildings smashed, while plaster and masonry appears to have fallen down from some buildings.

Many residents have taken to Facebook to say they were woken up and scared by the quake and that aftershocks are still being felt.

On February 22, 2011, the city of Christchurch was hit by a 6.3-magnitude earthquake, which killed 185 people and injured thousands. New Zealand is on the boundary of the Australian and Pacific tectonic plates, which form part of the so-called “Ring of Fire”, and experiences up to 15,000 tremors a year.

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