A powerful 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of New Zealand today, triggering warnings of a possible tsunami.
New Zealanders on the coast of the North Island were told to flee to high ground or 'as far inland as you can' if they felt a 'long or strong' tremor in the early hours of Friday local time.
Witnesses described a 'very long, swaying shake' and houses making 'cracking sounds' in a tremor which some thought had lasted for as long as a minute, but there were no immediate reports of casualties.
Tsunami waves were possible within 180 miles of the earthquake's epicentre, the Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre warned.
The quake, which came less than an hour after a 3.7-magnitude rumble in the same area, was measured at 110 miles from the city of Gisborne.
The Pacific nation's emergency management agency said in a 3am update that it was 'assessing whether [the earthquake] has created a tsunami that could affect New Zealand'.
The United States Geological Survey recorded the earthquake's depth at six miles and said it had struck shortly before 2.30am New Zealand time.
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.