The U.S. Geological Service<http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/eventpage/us1000778i#executive> has reported a 7.8 magnitude earthquake in North Canterbury, New Zealand on the South Island in the early hours of Mondaymorning. Its epicenter was 15 km north-east of Culverden, close to Hanmer Springs, at 12:02 AM local time. Military helicopters have been dispatched to the town of Kaikoura on the east coast to assess the damage and help those worst hit. Prime Minister John Key has confirmed that there have been two fatalities. Wellington City Council has asked workers based in the city center to stay home today “owing to potential damage to buildings and disruptions to public transport”.
At 8:13 AM, the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management<http://www.civildefence.govt.nz/> announced a tsunami marine and beach threat from Napier to north of Dunedin, Cook Straight coastal areas, and The Chatham Islands. The threat for all other regions has been lifted. All previous threat regions will experience unusually strong currents for some time. Areas under ‘Marine and Beach Threat’ can expect unusually strong currents and unpredictable water flows near the shore. This means a threat to beach, harbor, estuary, and small boat activities. The severity of currents and changing water flows will vary within a particular coastal area and over the period this warning is in effect. People in Napier to north of Dunedin, Cook Straight coastal areas, and The Chatham Islands areas should:
1. Stay out of the water (sea, rivers, and estuaries, including boating activities).
2. Stay off beaches and shore areas.
3. Do not go sightseeing.
4. Share this information with family, neighbors, and friends.
5. Listen to the radio and/or TV for updates.
6. Follow instructions of local civil defense authorities.
7. If beach threat is forecasted for your area, take appropriate evasive action.
We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in New Zealand enroll in the Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at https://step.state.gov/step. STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency.
For the latest security information, U.S. citizens living and traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet website at http://travel.state.gov. Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada, or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
The U.S. Consulate General in New Zealand is located at Citigroup Centre, 3rd Floor, 23 Customs Street East, Auckland and is open Monday to Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., website https://nz.usembassy.gov/, email address AucklandACS@state.gov<mailto:AucklandACS@state.gov>.
If you are a U.S. citizen in need of urgent assistance, the emergency number for the U.S. Embassy/Consulate is (64) 09 303 2724 x 2900 or, after hours, (64) 04 462 6000.