New Zealand: At least 2 dead in 7.8-magnitude quake


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PHYSINEWS BREAKING REPORTS (From CNN)A powerful 7.8-magnitude earthquake has jolted New Zealand's South Island and triggered a tsunami, sending people running into the streets in a panic amid a series of aftershocks.
At least two people died in the series of violent quakes, according to Prime Minister John Key.
The quake struck some 93 kilometers (55 miles) northeast of the city of Christchurch just after midnight local time on Monday, the US Geological Survey reported. It triggered waves of 2.49 meters above usual tide levels, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) said.
"This is the highest tsunami wave (that) New Zealand has seen in at least 38 years," said Philip Duncan of Weather Watch New Zealand.
The tsunami warning has now been lifted.
CNN Map
New Zealand is a South Pacific nation of islands, the two largest being the North and South islands, which are home to most of the population. Slightly more than 1 million people live in the South, while the North has more than 3 million.
Guests at the Amora Hotel in Wellington gather in a carpark after fleeing their rooms.
In Christchurch, memories of a devastating 6.3-magnitude earthquake in 2011 are still fresh for many. That quake killed 185 people and injured thousands, and reduced swathes of the city's historic area to rubble.
Damage on a Wellington street after the quake.
"The land has been very peaceful for many, many months. So this is bringing back all the rare memories," Chet Wah, owner of Designer Cottage B&B in Christchurch, told CNN.
"I just checked with all the guests. They are alright. It is scary. It's going to be a long night."
Christchurch, on the South Island's eastern coast, has a population of over 340,000 people, the most recent census shows.

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