SYDNEY — A tsunami warning for parts of New Zealand was lifted on Friday afternoon, hours after officials had told residents of coastal areas to evacuate in the wake of an 8.1-magnitude earthquake in the South Pacific.
The earthquake was recorded early Friday morning near the Kermadec Islands, which are between Tonga and New Zealand’s North Island, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center urged the public in the region to be vigilant and to closely monitor the situation, saying that “tsunami waves have been observed.”
At 1:15 p.m. local time, the National Emergency Management Agency in New Zealand told residents who had earlier evacuated that it was safe to return to their homes. It said that the “largest waves have now passed.”
Less than two hours before the 8.1-magnitude earthquake, seismologists recorded a 7.4-magnitude earthquake about 31 miles west, the U.S. Geological Survey said. The agency said that the first earthquake was most likely what is known as a foreshock.
Six hours earlier, a 7.3-magnitude earthquake was reported about 560 miles to the south, seismologists said.
Damien Cave reported from Sydney, Neil Vigdor reported from Greenwich, Conn., and Natasha Frost reported from Auckland.