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Magnitude 7.1 earthquake off East Coast shakes North Island

• Magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck at 4.37am, around 100km northeast of Te Araroa
• 1000 homes without power
• Rockfall warnings on SH2 and SH35
• Tsunami warning lifted
• Coastal regions warned of currents and surges
• 140 aftershocks, nearly 100 magnitude 3 or above
• Te Waka O Rerekohu Area School, Tolaga Bay Area School, Waikirikiri School and Kaiti School in Gisborne are closed

There are reports of damaged homes after this morning's 7.1 earthquake which triggered a tsunami warning, closed schools and temporarily stopped trains from running.

HAS YOUR HOME OR BUSINESS BEEN DAMAGED? EMAIL THE HERALD

The quake was felt by tens of thousands of people throughout many parts of the North Island, with people being woken as their homes shock and items fell to the floor. It hit at 4.37am, around 125km northeast of the East Cape settlement of Te Araroa, at a depth of 22km.

While there doesn't appear to have been any injuries reports are however coming in of cracks in walls of houses and damage to some private water supplies in the Gisborne region.

The quake also cut power to about 1000 homes in Eastern Bay of Plenty.

Anton McKay, who lives in Patutahi, 15 minutes from Gisborne, is now in cleanup mode.
"There's big cracks in the ceiling beams, about 40cms long. There's also cracks in the walls and the water tanks are hammered.

"The tanks have got cracks in the top and bottom, and they're both leaking water. They'll need to be replaced."

McKay said there was also cracks in his kitchen cupboards and drawers, and dishwasher.

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"The kitchen's warped. The cupboards and drawers are buckled, and heaps of the glasses and plates are smashed."

He said he felt everything cracking during the quake.

Video

"It went on and on. It was a rolling sound. I could hear things cracking and stuff falling off the shelves.

Damage from this morning's quake Source: Debbie Gregory / Gisborne Herald
Damage from this morning's quake Source: Debbie Gregory / Gisborne Herald

"The swimming pool was sloshing water. It was going about 30cm high and landing in the carport, about 10 metres from the pool."

McKay's teenage children stayed home from school today. The family was going to clean up what they could and intended to still stay at the house tonight.


Gisborne Chamber of Commerce wasn't aware of any Gisborne shops or businesses being damaged by the quake.

A spokeswoman for Insurance Council New Zealand said no significant damage had been reported to the authority this morning.

Map of the aftershocks

"It knocked over a lot of stuff"

Te Araroa Holiday Park owner Bill Martin said the quake was "very violent" for about five to 10 seconds.

"It knocked over a lot of stuff on the shelves in the shop and some ornaments in my lounge.

"The town siren went and some of the guests here went to higher ground and some chose to stay; I chose to stay."

Gisborne mayor Meng Foon said contractors and council staff will be out later today checking all infrastructure, including power, phone lines, roads, bridges and water pipes.

GNS seismologist John Ristau said it was the biggest quake to hit the area in 20 years and lasted nearly a minute.

However, despite the size Gisborne Herald chief reporter Debbie Gregory said it was nowhere near the severity of one in 2007 which measured 6.8 (50km south Gisborne) and caused damage all over the city.

East Coast MP and cabinet minister Anne Tolley said she was "shaken and rather stirred" after this morning's quake.

"It was one of the longest ones I've experienced," she said.

She lives on the beach at Ohope but has not been down to the water.

She had been through the Gisborne earthquake of 2007 which had been quite violent.

"This was long and enough to get me out of bed and into the doorway and enough to actually get the dog up and barking."


Residents evacuate

Te Araroa resident Amohi Cook said she and several other residents had huddled in their vehicles on hills above the township this morning.

"I woke up about 4.28am, looked at the clock and the house was rocking.

"It was one of the freakiest ones I've ever felt. The local [Department of Conservation] man called up by husband, who is the chief of the Te Araroa fire brigade, and he went and set the alarms off three times to get everyone up."

There have been more than 140 aftershocks. Several have been moderate in size, including a M5.6 jolt at 5.01am and a M4.6 quake at 5.03am.

Nearly 100 aftershocks were M3 or above and would have been felt by those close to the tip of the East Cape, said GeoNet seismologist Caroline Little.

Those M5 or above would have been felt by people over a wider area.

Little said GeoNet's 'felt it' service was set to receive a maximum of 50,000 reports in a day but had crashed at one stage because that limit had been exceeded. It is now working again.

Tairawhiti Emergency Management Group is discouraging people from going out in boats, they are also advising people to stay off beaches, out of the water and away from rivers, streams and estuaries in vulnerable areas for at least 24 hours.

Te Waka O Rerekohu Area School in Te Araroa, Tolaga Bay Area School and Waikirikiri School in Gisborne are closed today.

If your property is damaged:

• Contact your insurer
• Take photographs of the damage for insurance claims
• Keep all damaged items for inspection.
• Make a list of any perishables you have to dispose of.
• Try and prevent further damage by making the building safe and weatherproof is it's safe to do so
• Get essential services repaired e.g. water, electricity, gas, sewerage - keep copies of your bills.
• Don't start non-essential repairs without the insurance company's approval.

(Advice from Insurance Council NZ)

- NZ Herald

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