Earthquakes occur often in New Zealand as the country lies in the collision zone between the Indo-Australian and Pacific tectonic plates.
Two people have died after a magnitude-7.8 earthquake struck New Zealand’s South Island on Monday morning.
The US Geological Survey said the quake struck just after midnight local time on 13 November, about 95 kilometers (59 miles) from the city of Christchurch.
The country’s prime minister John Key confirmed two people have died “as a result of” the natural disaster.
“Hopefully that will be the total count,” Key told Sky News on Monday morning.
Meanwhile, aftershocks are hitting the country.
The biggest aftershock yet was a magnitude-6.3 earthquake which hit 25km north of Cheviot at 1:35 p.m.
One death occurred in the coastal town of Kaikoura, which was hit particularly hard by the quake and aftershock.
The second fatality reportedly happened at a remote property 150 km north of Christchurch at Mount Lyford on Monday morning.
People living near the Clarence River north of Kaikoura were warned to get to higher ground immediately at 3:30 p.m. local time on Monday afternoon after a dam breached.
A large wall of water began to head downstream and emergency workers evacuated many residents from their homes.
Phone connections in the area were affected, roads were damaged, and many residents slept in their cars in order to be prepare should they need to flee immediately. This has made texting for help more affective than calling, the major phone network in the area, Spark, told its customers.
In February 2011, a magnitude-6.3 earthquake struck Christchurch, killing 185 people. There have been several large earthquakes since, including a magnitude-7.1 quake in 2012, and another magnitude-7.1 quake in the East Cape region in September of this year.