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    Deadly magnitude-7.8 earthquake rocks New Zealand, triggers tsunami

    By By Renee Duff, meteorologist
    November 15, 2016, 4:50:11 PM EST

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    A deadly magnitude-7.8 earthquake jolted New Zealand early Sunday morning, generating a tsunami along the east coast of the island.

    The shallow quake hit near the coast about 58 miles (93 km) northeast of Christchurch and occurred just 14.3 miles (23.0 km) below the earth's surface, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) reported.


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    Cars were gridlocked in Wellington, the nation's capitol, where tsunami sirens wailed and residents hurried to higher ground.

    A tsunami was reported along the northeastern coast of South Island, according to the New Zealand Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management (MCDEM).

    Waves reached 8.2 feet (2.49 meters) above normal tide levels at Kaikoura, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC).

    People were urged to stay away from the beaches following the tsunami, but the threat has since come to an end.

    The earthquake also triggered landslides and caused major damage to roads and buildings across the region with the towns of Kaikoura and Cheviot experiencing some of the worst tremors.

    There have been at least two fatalities as a result of the earthquake, according to the Associated Press.

    "New Zealand is planning to send in military helicopters and a navy ship to rescue about 1,000 tourists and hundreds of residents who remain stranded in the coastal town of Kaikoura after a powerful earthquake on Monday cut off train and vehicle access," the AP said.


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    The earthquake was felt across the entire country, including the city of Christchurch which was hit by a deadly magnitude-6.3 earthquake in 2011.

    Dozens of strong aftershocks rocked the region in the wake of the initial quake, many of which ranging from a magnitude 4.5 to magnitude 6.5.

    "Officials said some large buildings were showing signs of structural stress, and the quake would likely have caused a mess in some buildings," the AP said.

    The earthquake also lead to localized power and phone outages with the greatest number of outages, especially in areas near the epicenter.

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    Cleanup efforts may be hindered this week by rounds of rain across New Zealand.

    "A storm system will bring increasing amounts of rain to South Island on Monday, with the heaviest rainfall expected in northern and western areas," AccuWeather Meteorologist Eric Leister said.

    "Another round of rain will arrive on Wednesday and Thursday," he added.

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