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7.8 quake strikes New Zealand

A magnitude-7.8 earthquake struck off New Zealand's western coast yesterday generating a small tsunami. No injuries or major damage were reported.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii warned that a tsunami was generated, but it later said the waves were less than 20 centimeters in height and canceled the warning after about an hour.

The Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre also issued a tsunami alert for eastern Australia. The alert was still in effect late yesterday.

"All available New Zealand and international data about the earthquake and sea levels showed that there is no tsunami threat to New Zealand," said John Hamilton, director of the Ministry of Civil Defense and Emergency Management.

The quake's epicenter was 160 kilometers west of Invercargill, off the west coast of New Zealand's South Island at a depth of 33 kilometers, the United States Geological Survey said.

The quake was felt widely across the South Island. Police in the town of Tuatapere said they had reports of minor cracks in buildings and stock falling from supermarket shelves.

However, no reports of serious damage or injuries were received, police said.

Scientists with New Zealand's Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences were working with their US counterparts to reconcile their readings with those taken overseas. The quake was reported locally at magnitude 6.6 before reports from the US listed it from magnitude 7.8 to 8.2.


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