WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - NOVEMBER 14: People wait in Te Aro Park after being evacuated from nearby buildings following an earthquake on November 14, 2016 in Wellington, New Zealand. The 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck 20km south-east of Hanmer Springs at 12.02am and triggered tsunami warnings for many coastal areas. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Two people have been confirmed dead after an earthquake struck New Zealand, followed by a tsunami.
Thousands of terrified families have fled further inland or to higher ground after tsunami warning sirens rang out.
The Civil Defence Ministry is warning that people living close to the epicentre of the earthquake, which measured 7.5 in magnitude, could see waves of between three and five metres high.
Waves of up to two metres have already hit the Kaikoura area of South Island, and the ministry is warning that the situation could get worse. Officials said the tsunami was an “event of life-threatening or national significance”.
Road signs across South Island warned: “Tsunami warning. Turn radio on.”
In social media messages, the ministry warned resident that: “A tsunami has been generated, the first wave has arrived in the North Eastern Coast of the South Island. The first wave may not be the largest. Waves may continue for several hours.”
Anyone living in low lying parts of the East Coast of the North, South or Chatham Islands was urged to take immediate action to get to higher ground.
For those who find themselves with no time to reach higher ground, the advice is to move to a higher storey, to climb onto a roof or climb a tree. Householders are advised to keep their radio on to make sure they have the latest official advice.
While two deaths have been confirmed, the exact situation on the ground is not yet known, although St John Ambulance has announced it is sending aid helicopters to the epicentre of the tremor, around 60 miles away from Christchurch, to help any casualties.
One of the people to have died in the earthquake is understood to have lost their life after becoming trapped in a building with collapsed in Kaikoura, a popular tourist area where people flock to enjoy marine safaris.
Already, shocked New Zealanders have started posted images of their damaged homes in the aftermath of the quake.
Historic buildings and family homes have collapsed or been severely damaged, while power is out across many parts of the country, making rescue operations more difficult.
Many bridges have been so severely damaged that they are no longer passable, while roads have been closed and rail and ferry services have been suspended, all making it difficult for residents who have not already made their way from a danger zone to escape.

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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.