A tsunami has struck New Zealand following an earthquake on South Island.
The tremor hit with a magnitude of 7.8 just after midnight on Sunday, around 60 miles away from Christchurch on the east coast.
Around two hours later, a tsunami struck the north-eastern coast and residents are being warned that there could be bigger waves to come in the next few hours.
Families were urged to head inland or make for higher ground as waves measured two feet high just north of Christchurch. Thousands of people have now left their homes as aftershocks continue from the initial quake.
Many Good Samaritans have posted on social media to offer anyone displaced by the tremor a place to spend the night.
Smaller waves have hit Wellington, with warnings that larger ones could be on their way.
Terrified families in the Chatham Islands, which sit around 420 miles away from the mainland, were told they could be hit any time by a huge wave.
New Zealand is particularly prone to quakes because it sits on the so-called Ring of Fire, an area of tremors and volcanic eruptions in the Pacific rim.
While it is not known yet whether anyone has been killed or injured in this latest quake, Christchurch is still reeling from an earlier quake, in 2011, in which 185 people lost their lives. With the city centre flattened in places, an extensive building programme has been ongoing.
Fire officers say they are hopeful that there have been no injuries after door to door evacuations.
Chris Hill, who is a fire officer with the brigade in Cheviot, said: “There’s a lot of debris in houses, but at this stage it doesn’t look like anything too bad has happened.”
Scared residents, however, spoke of their terror as the quake hit. One Christchurch resident said they were woken up because the house was shaking.
Meanwhile, many took to social media to share their experience. Hayley Colgan tweeted that it was “the most terrifying earthquake I think I’ve felt in my 23 years in New Zealand”.
This latest tremor follows a magnitude 7.1 quake which hit North Island in September. A tsunami warning was sounded then too, but thankfully, although there was damage to buildings, there were no injuries.
As well as this most recent quake in New Zealand, Italy has been hit by a number of earthquakes this year.

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Thomas Channeton
He is a freelance journalist who has actively worked on various environmental issues. He had covered the Clean Water Act amendments and the Superfund legislation which ultimately became the basis for the Clean Air Act which was promulgated in 1990. After that, he also covered the Food Quality Protection Act which was promulgated in 1996. As a freelance environmental reporter he also delved into the oil issue in North Dakota which altered the energy portfolio of the nation. He is also passionate about the various climate changes occurring around us and has reported about the harmful effects of global warming on the environment.