New Zealand has been rocked by strong aftershocks following a 7.8-magnitude earthquake that killed two people just after midnight Monday morning local time.
The quake struck near the coastal community of Kaikoura, some 93 kilometers (55 miles) northeast of the city of Christchurch, according to the US Geological Survey reported.
The BBC reports that the epicentre northeast of Christchurch, near the town of Kaikoura which has been cut off by landslides.
A large river dammed up by a landslide also breached its banks, sending a “large wall of water” downstream.
Residents around the Clarence River – one of the largest on South Island – were being urged to move immediately to higher ground.
Military helicopters and a navy ship are being sent to evacuate more than a thousand people who remain stranded in Kaikoura.
An initial tsunami warning has now been lifted hundreds of tremors including at least two powerful aftershocks continued, with a 6.2-magnitude quake striking at around 2:30 a.m. 39 kilometers west-southwest of Kaikoura, further north of Christchurch
Another 5.8 magnitude was reported to have hit at around 7am today.
There were also reports that the skies over New Zealand were mysteriously lit up in various colors as the original earthquake struck.
Footage of the unusual sky was posted on YouTube and showed what appeared to be bright flashes “during the peak of the shaking” according to video uploader Zachary Bell.