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Weekly wrap-up: Destructive quake rocks New Zealand, triggers tsunami; Fires, smoke plague southeast US

A deadly magnitude 7.8 earthquake shook the entire country of New Zealand on Sunday, Nov. 13, triggering a tsunami along the island's east coast.

The temblor struck just 58 miles (93 km) northeast of Christchurch and 14.3 miles (23.0 km) below the Earth's surface, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Localized power and phone outages were reported and the greatest number occurred near the quake's epicenter. The earthquake caused landslides and left behind major damage to roads and buildings across the region. The towns of Kaikoura and Cheviot experienced some of the worst tremors.

At least two people were killed as a result of the quake, and rescue operations continued into midweek for tourists and residents that were stranded in Kaikoura, which is located along the coast, the Associated Press reported.

Waves reached 8.2 feet (2.49 meters) above normal tide levels at Kaikoura, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

A landslide blocks State Highway One and the main railway line north of Kaikoura following an earthquake in New Zealand, Monday, Nov. 14, 2016. (Mark Mitchell/New Zealand Herald/Pool via AP)

Numerous wildfires continued to plague the Southeast as rain avoided the region. According to CBS News, there are more than 70 wildfires burning in eight different states and air quality advisories are in place for dozens of counties.

The Tellico Fire in Macon County, North Carolina, has burned over 13,600 acres and was 74 percent contained as of Thursday afternoon. The Rough Ridge Fire in Fannin County, Georgia, has burned nearly 25,000 acres and was 40 percent contained as of Thursday afternoon.

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory announced that their are more than 2,000 personnel battling nearly 20 fires in the state. The wildfires have cost North Carolina an estimated $15 million already, according to McCrory.

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Numerous record high temperatures were set across parts of the central U.S. for the second straight week.

Oklahoma City set a record of 86 F, smashing the record of 82 originally set in 1921 on Wednesday. Salt Lake City reached 73 on Tuesday, surpassing the previous record high of 70 set in 1941.

A tornado caused damage to dozens of homes near Johannesburg on Monday. The tornado occurred just several days after severe flooding hit the same part of South Africa, claiming the lives of at least six people.

That flooding event was determined to be a once-in-a hundred-year event, the South African National Roads Agency said.

Several AccuWeather meteorologists and staff writers contributed content to this article.


Have questions, comments, or a story to share? Email Kevin Byrne at Kevin.Byrne@accuweather.com, follow him on Twitter at @Accu_Kevin. Follow us @breakingweather, or on Facebook