2 dead after New Zealand hit by earthquake

Two people were killed when a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck New Zealand early Monday, just after midnight local time.

After a magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit New Zealand, one person died in the southern island of Kaikoura and another died in Mt. Lyford, a nearby ski resort. Several people suffered minor injuries in Kaikoura.

New Zealand, with a population of 4.7 million, sits on the “Ring of Fire,” an arc of seismic faults around the Pacific Ocean where earthquakes are common. The earthquake was at a relatively shallow depth of 10 kilometers (6 miles).

Shortly after the initial tremor, a tsunami wave struck, and residents living in low-lying areas anywhere along the country’s east coast were warned to move to higher ground. Authorities later downgraded the tsunami warnings.

Aftershock tremors were felt for hours after.

The tremor opened up fissures in roads and triggered landslides, while buildings in several cities showed signs of possible structural damage. Wellington city’s suburban rail network was shut while crews checked tracks, bridges and tunnels.

New Zealand was last severely shaken by a magnitude-6.3 earthquake that struck Christchurch in 2011, destroying much of the downtown area and killing 185 people. That quake was one of New Zealand’s worst disasters, causing an estimated $25 billion in damage.

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By: World Israel News Staff
AP contributed to this report.