A tsunami warning issued for New Zealand following a magnitude 7.6 earthquake that struck in the Pacific Ocean northeast of the country has been canceled, but local officials are still urging caution in the coastal areas.
The U.S. Geographical Survey said the New Zealand earthquake struck at 7:03 a.m. on Thursday at the epicenter, 131 miles east of Raoul Island, part of the Kermadec archipelago, and was only 30 miles deep.
A tsunami warning was issued by the U.S. Pacific Tsunami Center for the Kermadecs, Tonga and New Zealand after the quake, but was later called off.
Officials expect, however, that there will be unusually strong tidal surges and currents. For the next 24 hours, people should exercise discretion before entering the water or going out in small boats.
The center said sea level readings indicate a tsunami was generated and it may have been destructive along coasts near the earthquake epicenter.
For those areas - when no major waves are observed for two hours after the estimated time of arrival or damaging waves have not occurred for at least two hours then local authorities can assume the threat is passed, the center said.
Danger to boats and coastal structures, however, can continue for several hours due to rapid currents. As local conditions can cause a wide variation in tsunami wave action the all clear determination must be made by local authorities.