Three earthquakes struck the Pacific region over a period of 6 hours on Friday, with the last quake registering as 8.1 magnitude — one of the most powerful earthquakes in the region in modern history.
Officials issued advisories for coastal areas after the first quake — registering as 7.3 magnitude — originated around 100 miles from the islands.
“We expect New Zealand coastal areas to experience strong and unusual currents and unpredictable surges at the shore,” New Zealand’s National Emergency Management Agency tweeted.
The quakes created waves ranging from 3 to 10 feet in height and forcing officials to issue tsunami warnings in various countries around the Pacific.
The strongest quake originated about 620 miles northeast of New Zealand.
Even Hawaii observed a tsunami warning that lasted 2 and a half hours, Hawaii News Now reported.
Despite the significant strength of the earthquakes, no widespread injuries or deaths have been reported. New Zealand residents only reported gridlock as people fled their homes for higher ground, as well as some structural damage.
A smaller, 6.3 magnitude earthquake in 2011 killed 185 people on the southern-most island of Christchurch.
Residents have been told they may return home, but have been warned to remain off beaches, although authorities said the largest waves have passed, the BBC reported.