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Kiwis prepare for overnight tsunami following massive Chile earthquake

New Zealanders along the east coast are preparing for a potential tsunami of up to one metre, following a 8.3 magnitude quake in Chile this morning.

The New Zealand Civil Defence has issued warning for potential tsunami on Coromandel Peninsula, Gisborne Coast, Napier/Hastings Coast, Christchurch North Coast, Banks Peninsula, Mid to South Canterbury Coast, and Chatham Island.

Waves up to one metre high could hit areas of NZ tonight after an 8.3 earthquake off Chile today Source: 1 NEWS

Are you a Kiwi in Chile and affected by the quake? If you are safe, email news@tvnz.co.nz with details, photos and video. 

5.35pm: That concludes our live updates of the 8.3 magnitude earthquake that struck Chile this morning. Check back later for further updates on the disaster, and watch ONE News at 6pm for comprehensive coverage.

An updated map of the tsunami threat levels to New Zealand following the Chile quake. Source: Supplied

5.32pm: The Chatham Islands are on high alert with Civil Defence warning they could be on the receiving end of a tsunami overnight.

Mayor Alfred Preece says this stage the tsunami is looking to be low level and no larger than a metre but he says anything over that could cause some real damage.

"This is a scenario that we’ve been in several times before so everyone is very much on standby."

4.11pm: At least five people are dead, and one million have been evacuated, an official has told AFP.

3.53pm: Authorities said the tremor was so strong that people on the other side of the continent, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, reported feeling it.

Numerous strong aftershocks, including one measuring 7 magnitude and three above 6, have also rattled the region.

3.40pm: The Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management has issued a tsunami warning for Coromandel Peninsula, Gisborne Coast, Napier/Hastings Coast, Christchurch North Coast, Banks Peninsula, Mid to South Canterbury Coast, and Chatham Island.

3.22pm: A tsunami warning has been issued for the coastal and river mouth areas in the Mid Canterbury area.

3.03pm: At least three people have been killed in the earthquake, Chile's President Michelle Bachelet said. 

2.40pm: CNN is reporting that a 15.3-foot wave has hit Chile's coast following the 8.3-magnitude earthquake, according to the US NWS Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

2.27pm: Gisborne-East Coast residents are being advised to stay out of the water, and off the beaches and wharves from tonight, following the 8.3 earthquake off the coast of Chile.

The first tsunami waves or tidal surges may reach East Cape just after midnight tonight, Gisborne Civil Defence said.

A tsunami warning for the district’s coastline was issued at midday today and the Gisborne Civil Defence Emergency Management centre activated soon afterwards.

Gisborne Civil Defence Emergency Manager Louise Bennett advises people to stay out of the sea, rivers and estuaries and not to go sightseeing. Boat-owners are also advised to check and  secure their vessels’ moorings.

The tsunami threat levels to New Zealand following the Chile earthquake. Source: Supplied

"An increased wave height of between 30 to 40cm is expected to reach East Cape just after midnight tonight. This may change. The Ministry of Civil Defence Emergency Management is updating us hourly," Mrs Bennett said. 

"Strong currents and unusual tidal action is expected over the coming days. These present a risk to people in or near the water at river mouths, marinas, jetties and around rocks and wharves.

"We have a 12-hour lead-in for this and have put our tsunami plan into action. We advise residents to be aware that the largest expected wave is not always the first to arrive. Waves can continue for several hours and often can get larger during this time."

2.17pm: Cook Islands News political reporter Phillipa Webb tweeted that a tsunami warning has been issued for the islands of Rarotonga, Penrhyn and Pukupukpa.

2.00pm: New Zealand Civil Defence Minister Nikki Kaye says following the 8.3 earthquake in Chile, it’s important people listen to national warnings issued in New Zealand by the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management.

"In these situations, a national tsunami panel, which includes a team of experts, advises MCDEM on any potential threat to New Zealand.

"In the last couple of hours there have been several meetings of the panel, and a tsunami warning marine and beach threat has been issued for East Cape, Chatham Islands, Coromandel and Banks Peninsula."

She said people in these areas should follow this advice:

- Stay out of the water (sea, rivers and estuaries, including boating activities)

- Stay off beaches and shore areas

- Do not go sightseeing

- Share this information with family, neighbours and friends

- Listen to the radio and/or TV for updates

1.51pm: The prinicipal of Mercury Bay Area School, John Wright, has confirmed that the whole school has been evacuated due to tsunami fears.

The students have been evacuated further inland to Moewai Park.

Mr Wright said he will monitor the updates later today and overnight with the tsunami waves before deciding whether the school will be open tomorrow.

1.38pm: Four aftershocks above magnitude six and other strong shakes have rattled the region as tsunami alarms sounded in the port of Valparaiso.

Illapel city mayor, Denis Cortes, told a local television station that a woman had been killed in the city but declined to give any details.

People along Northland’s east coast are being warned to stay away from beaches and estuaries after dark tonight and keep abreast of latest updates throughout the day after tsunami warnings issued in the wake of a large earthquake off Chile.

12.55pm: MFAT has issued some advice for those who are in affected areas in South America, or who have loved ones there.

New Zealanders in Chile and Peru are advised to follow the advice of local authorities, including any evacuation orders, stay away from areas immediately adjacent to the coast and keep family in New Zealand informed of their safety and well-being.

People flee supermarket in Santiago, Chile after earthquake Source: Getty

New Zealanders with concerns for New Zealand citizen family members in Chile or Peru should try and make direct contact with them in the first instance, bearing in mind that communications may have been affected by the earthquake.  If there are ongoing concerns, please contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Consular Division on 04 439 8000.

12.50pm: The Cook Islands Meteorological Service has alerted police over a tsunami warning for Rarotonga, Penrhyn and Palmerston.

They have been advised any possible tsunami – with waves up to one metre high – would hit between midnight and 2am tonight (NZ time).

A spokesperson from Fiji’s Meteorological office says it has received an alert but as yet there is no warning for Fiji.

Other Pacific countries which could be affected include Tonga, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Tokelau, Vanuatu and the Solomons

12.40pm: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade says 60 New Zealanders in Chile have registered with Safe Travel, and 59 in Peru.

12.30pm: At least three aftershocks above magnitude six and other strong shakes have rattled Chile as tsunami alarms sounded in the port of Valparaiso.

It's the first major quake in the area since a quake and tsunami killed hundreds in 2010.

Officials ordered people to evacuate low-lying areas along the 3,900 kilometers of Chile's Pacific shore, from Puerto Aysen in the south to Arica in the north.

12.23pm: Civil Defence says any large waves are expected in the Chatham Islands 12 hours after the shake, with the East Coast hit an hour later. 

12.20pm: Strong tidal currents are likely to go on for 24 hours, with a peak four to 10 hours after the first arrival.

12.12pm: Waves of between one and three metres are possible on French Polynesia, while Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and the Cook Islands could get a tsunami of up to one metre. 

12.05pm: The Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management has issued a tsunami warning for East Cape, Chatham Islands, Coromandel and Banks Peninsula.

People in coastal areas should stay out of the water, stay away from beaches and shore areas, not go sightseeing, share information with family, friends and neighbours, listen to TV or radio for updates, and follow any instructions from authorities. 

12pm: The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre says tsunami waves of up to 1m could reach New Zealand. 

Waves possibly reaching more than 3m are possible along the coast of Chile.

A powerful earthquake shook Chile's capital today, causing buildings to sway and people to take refuge in the streets.

Tsunami alarms sounded in the port of Valparaiso and authorities issued a tsunami alert for the country's entire coast.

New Zealand Civil Defence is assessing the threat to this country. 

The US Geological Survey reported the quake had a preliminary magnitude of 7.9, before upgrading it to 8.3.

US officials said the quake struck just offshore in the Pacific at 10.54 am (NZT), and was centered about 228 kilometers north-northwest of Santiago. It said the quake was five kilometers below the surface.

Chile's emergency office warned that big waves caused by the quake could hit the coast later today, and US authorities have issued an alert for Hawaii.