WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — A magnitude-8.3 quake that struck off the coast of Chile Wednesday night was powerful enough that authorities 9,600 kilometers (6,000 miles) away in New Zealand have warned residents that a tsunami could hit parts of the country.
And the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said the place most at risk in the South Pacific was French Polynesia, which could get waves of up to three meters (10 feet).
New Zealand’s Ministry of Civil Defence said people living in some eastern areas should stay away from beaches and the shoreline. Those areas include the East Cape, the Chatham Islands, the Coromandel and Banks Peninsula.
The ministry said if a tsunami did hit it would likely be soon after midnight Friday local time (1200 GMT Thursday).
The earthquake shook Chile’s capital Santiago. Officials reported one death in a town north of the capital as well as heavy waves in a handful of coastal cities. It prompted authorities to issue a tsunami warning for the entire Chile coast.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said waves of more than 3 meters were possible along the coast of Chile and waves of between 1 meter and 3 meters could hit French Polynesia, which includes the popular tourist island of Tahiti.
The warning center said waves of up to 1 meter could hit a host of countries and islands, including New Zealand, Hawaii, Japan, American Samoa, the Marshall Islands, Mexico, Ecuador and Peru.