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Warnings cancelled but waves still building across NZ

Civil Defence has downgraded the tsunami warning for New Zealand, after the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre in Hawaii cancelled the advisory however large waves are continuing to build in some places.

According to GeoNet waves have increased in height in Napier, Gisborne and the Chatham Islands over the past two hours.

However Civil Defence points out that larger waves may continue for 6 to 12 hours after the first waves arrived this morning.

The centre has lifted the warning for several countries including New Zealand although Japan is warning its residents to evacuate coastal areas as a wave of up to three metres could hit the Pacific coast side of the country.

Prime Minister John Key is shocked about the devastation in Chile and says the New Zealand Government is prepared to provide assistance should it be requested. There are no reports so far of any New Zealand casualties in Chile and all embassy staff have been confirmed as safe. Mr Key is advising anyone concerned about loved ones in the affected area to try to make contact with them in the first instance. He says if people cannot make contact with relatives and have concerns they should call the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade on 0800 432 111.

Chile’s death toll stands at more than 300 after the magnitude 8.8 earthquake struck yesterday. The tremor was 800 times more powerful than that which hit Haiti last month and is the fifth most powerful earthquake in the world since 1900. Reuters news agency reports that buildings have toppled and bridges and roads are destroyed. Operations have been halted at two major copper mines.

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