Two dead from New Zealand earthquakes

Kaitlyn Steinhiser, Editor

Monday, November 5 2016 brought massive earthquakes across the southern island of New Zealand resulting in powerful tsunamis and two dead.

The first earthquake struck a few minutes past midnight, and it registered at a 7.8 magnitude. Due to the fact that this happened in the coastal town of Kaikura, the earthquake caused multiple tsunamis with waves that were the highest in the past 28 years of New Zealand history.

The second earthquake hit at 1:30 pm just after initial tsunami warnings were lifted. This quake registered at a 6.4 magnitude. The earthquakes that took place in the south were so powerful that tremors could be felt on the northern island, specifically in the nation’s capital, Wellington. In fact, residents in the north were told to stay indoors during the days of the earthquakes due to the fact that city response teams needed to take record of the amount of damage done to the buildings by the earthquakes’ powerful tremors.

A landslide also took place on the northern half of the southern island that blocked the road from Christchurch to Kaikura. Other damage includes a break in a large dam on the Clarence River that could cause large floods. Anyone near the dam has been told to seek higher ground.

Due to the fact that the earthquakes took on a zig-zag effect, the aftershocks could possibly last for months. The first earthquake had more fault segments than the second one, and these particular earthquakes took place where the Pacific plate goes underneath the Australian plate. A spokeswoman for GeoNet New Zealand who has been monitoring seismic hazards, Caroline Little, went into specifics on the expected aftershocks of the first earthquake. “It was one quake, but there were a number of fault segments and a series of orientations in terms of the way the energy was released,” said Little.

While one of the confirmed deaths was caused by a heart attack, all that is known about the second death is that it happened in Kaikura. Many other casualties were reported in this area, but they are yet to be investigated.
As for those who survived the earthquakes, families are getting “grab gear,” which consists of whatever they have prepared to take if evacuation is necessary, ready and stationed by the most reliable exit in their shelter.
Evacuation has already taken place for some New Zealanders on the southern island, and many people are staying at safepoints.

While most roads are not blocked off, those looking to evacuate are being careful about which roads they decide to take due to the possibility of an aftershock strong enough to destroy some of the most reliable New Zealand roads.

Although these earthquakes had much higher magnitudes than the one that took place in 2011, the death count for these earthquakes is much smaller at the moment. In 2011, 185 people were killed. The 2011 earthquake also brought damage worth and estimated $25 billion.

Total damage and fatalities are not official, but New Zealanders are determined to prevail through this dangerous time, be they northerners or southerners.

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