New Zealand Hit by 7.8 Magnitude Earthquake

By Monica Sowa, International News Writer

On Monday, November 12, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake shook New Zealand’s South Island. The powerful earthquake’s epicenter was near Kaikoura, a city northeast of Christchurch. Tremors followed throughout Monday morning.

The United States Geological Survey has recorded at least 42 seismic events since the first tremor. A state of emergency has been issued for areas hit hardest by the earthquake and its aftermath.

Warnings of a tsunami were also issued. In preparation for the tsunami, people living on the eastern coast were told to head inland to find higher ground. However, the tsunami was less severe than expected and became only a marine and beach threat.  According to CNN, “waves of 2.49 m above usual tide levels” were recorded.

The earthquake has caused a great deal of damage. Fault lines have shifted, leaving roads split in two and houses destroyed. The impact has caused landslides that have rendered many roads impassable.

According to BBC, people in Kaikoura have been stranded because roads to surrounding towns are completely impassable and their power and phone lines are down. According to New Zealand’s Prime Minister, John Key, “there had been very little communication from the most affected areas, like Kaikoura and Culverden,” and that in the short term they are “trying to make sure that the people of Kaikoura and the likes have food, water, help and backup.” Since Monday, power has been restored in some areas, and the Red Cross has brought supplies into Kaikoura. However, water is limited and the roads are still severely damaged.

Many people in the affected region are displaced as a result of the earthquake and about 140 people are to be evacuated out of Kaikoura. According to CNN, Chinese helicopters have evacuated Chinese tourists, and the US Navy has volunteered to evacuate people via helicopter. For the time being, the Maori tribe has also opened its ceremonial gathering place as a shelter.

Images of destruction have flooded social media, from broken and flooded roads, to disheveled homes and grocery stores. Schools, offices and trains in the affected area were closed on Monday so that the damage could be assessed. Many areas of the country are also experiencing heavy rainfall.

People were not the only ones stranded as a result of the earthquake. According to CNN, three cows were also found stranded on a small plot of land after the surrounding area had crumbled. The cows were without water and had a delayed rescue because of the uncertain stability of the land surrounding them. Their owner, farmer Derrick Milton helped dig a path for the cows to reach safety. Due to the earthquake, Milton has suffered from livestock loss.

As devastating as this earthquake has been, according to BBC, it has not taken New Zealanders by surprise. Many are used to earthquakes because of the country’s location. New Zealand lies in the Ring of Fire, a line of volcanic activity in the Pacific Rim. Because of its location, New Zealand is very susceptible to earthquakes. A 7.1 earthquake hit its North Island just this past September, and unfortunately, New Zealand is still recovering from a 6.3 magnitude earthquake that hit Christchurch in 2011, which had destroyed the city center leaving 185 dead. This earthquake, however, was described as terrifying by many because it lasted longer than expected.

The earthquake has not only left the country severely damaged, but it has also resulted in the death of two people.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, November 22nd print edition.

Contact Monica at


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