On Wednesday evening, an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.3 struck New Zealand’s North Island as residents began the clean up process following Cyclone Gabrielle. The tremor was felt from lower North Island to the upper South Island, with GeoNet reporting that it was too deep to perturb the seafloor and thus no tsunami warning was sounded. Five deaths have been confirmed so far, including a volunteer firefighter and one child. Prime Minister Chris Hipkins acknowledged the firefighter for his service and said the grief of the family and loved ones of the victims “will be unimaginable.”
Around 160,000 households are still without power, with the situation in Hawke’s Bay remaining critical with 60,000 households without power and 9,000 people displaced. Several areas are also short of food and clean water, which authorities began delivering on Wednesday evening. The New Zealand Defence Force has deployed 700 personnel to assist in relief efforts.
Cyclone Gabrielle is now 400 kilometres to the east of Gisborne, moving southeast away from the country and weakening as it approaches the north of Chatham Islands. Heavy rain will continue to fall throughout central New Zealand, with the potential for further damage and flooding associated with it. Air New Zealand reported that over 800 flights had been impacted by Cyclone Gabrielle, affecting around 49,000 customers.
The country remains in a national state of emergency, which will be reviewed after seven days.