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New Zealanders retreat to the hills amid powerful quakes

Small tsunami waves triggered by a series of powerful earthquakes have hit the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island.

Later on in the day, Friday, the government announced that thousands of residents who had evacuated to higher ground could now return to their homes.

Officials had initially warned that waves could reach three metres above high tide levels after the quakes – the strongest a magnitude 8.1 – but the largest

waves have now passed, according to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), as it downgraded the threat level.

Video footage posted on social media showed surges of water entering a marina in Northland and on the North Island’s East Cape region.

Earlier on Friday, workers, students and residents in areas like Northland and Bay of Plenty, on the northern coast near Auckland, were put on alert after the three offshore earthquakes in less than eight hours triggered tsunami sirens and warnings.

An emergency alert was issued for all coastal areas around Auckland, a city of 1.7 million, where people were told to stay away from the water’s edge. There were no reports of damage or casualties from the quakes.

The third and strongest quake struck the Kermadec Islands, northeast of New Zealand’s North Island, on Friday morning, coming shortly after a 7.4 magnitude earthquake in the same region. Earlier, a large 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck about 900 km away on the east of the North Island.

Reuters

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