Minister for Civil Defence Kiri Allan on Friday (March 5) urged New Zealanders who evacuated to high ground or inland to stay where they are until an official all clear is announced.
Speaking at a news conference in Wellington, Allan asked people to stay calm and to check on those who might be at risk.
Thousands of New Zealanders on the east coast of the country’s North Island evacuated to higher ground on Friday, and its biggest city was put on alert after three offshore earthquakes in less than eight hours triggered tsunami sirens and warnings.
The latest quake had a magnitude of 8.1 and struck the Kermadec Islands, northeast of New Zealand’s North Island. This came shortly after a 7.4 magnitude earthquake in the same region. Earlier, a large 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck about 900 kilometers (540 miles) away on the east of the North Island.
New Zealand’s National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said areas under threat from tsunami waves were from the Bay of Islands to Whangarei, from Matata to Tolaga Bay including Whakatane and Opotiki, and the Great Barrier Island.
(Production: Ben Dadswell, Tanya Lezaic)