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Magnitude-7.1 quake strikes off New Zealand; no tsunami threat to U.S. West Coast

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A magnitude-7.1 earthquake struck early Friday off the northeastern coast of New Zealand, prompting officials to warn residents to stay off beaches and out of the water.

The undersea quake triggered a “very small” tsunami that hit the country’s northern coast, US Geological Survey geophysicist John Bellini said. There were no immediate reports of injuries or serious damage.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has not issued a Pacific-wide warning for potentially destructive ocean waves, but New Zealand’s Ministry of Civil Defense & Emergency Management issued a local tsunami warning, saying a wave of about 30 centimeters (11 inches) was recorded.

“The first tsunami activity has arrived. Tsunami activity will continue for several hours and the threat must be regarded as real until this warning is canceled,” the ministry said. It warned against boating and sightseeing in the area.

The quake, centered 30 kilometers (19 miles) beneath the Earth’s surface, struck 569 kilometers (352 miles) northeast of Wellington and 190 kilometers (118 miles) off the east coast of the nation’s northern island.

It was powerful enough to wake up residents in Auckland, hundreds of kilometers west of the epicenter, journalist Aroha Hathaway said.

“The house starts to shake, and it was a long, long rolling earthquake,” Hathaway said.

The tremor stirred memories of a 2011 earthquake in Christchurch, which killed 185 people and injured thousands.

“It was one of our big national tragedies, and here I am in Auckland, thinking I’m safe,” Hathaway said. “Auckland doesn’t get earthquakes … for Auckland to be woken up for an earthquake means it’s a significant shake.”

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