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At least two people were killed and more fatalities were feared after a powerful 7.8 earthquake struck New Zealand just after midnight Monday, while residents in coastal areas fled following tsunami warnings.The earthquake struck at 12:02 a.m. Monday (11:02 GMT Sunday) and was 23 kilometers deep, the U.S. Geological Survey said, putting the epicenter near the Alpine tourist village of Hanmer and the rural township of Cheviot in North Canterbury, South Island.It was one of the most powerful shakes to rock earthquake-prone New Zealand and ignited painful memories for residents in Christchurch which was devastated five years ago by a 6.3 tremor which killed 185 people. The main tremor was followed by a series of strong aftershocks and there were reports of damaged houses.In September, a strong 7.1-magnitude earthquake struck the east coast of New Zealand, generating a small tsunami, but no significant damage or injuries were reported.
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