The coast of New Zealand was rocked by three powerful earthquakes – the third one topping the 8.1 magnitudes on Richter Scale – in the wee hours of Friday.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the epicenter powerful earthquake was almost 620 miles in the northeast of New Zealand. Two other powerful earthquakes with magnitudes of 7.4 and 7.3 were reported on Thursday night.

A tsunami warning was issued for New Zealand whereas a tsunami watch was released for the Hawaiian Islands.

Small tsunami waves were observed on Friday but no casualties were reported.

Seismologist Jennifer Eccles from the University of Auckland claimed that the earthquake with 8.1 magnitudes was the biggest one to hit the area in recent years. “This is about as big as it gets,” she said. According to her it hit the ocean crust only and was not deep-rooted till the core.

In the wake of severe earthquakes, warning systems were triggered, causing a chaotic situation across the country. People were evacuated to other safer areas.

The Civil Defense Authorities in New Zealand have urged the people living in coastal areas to move towards higher grounds. A tsunami warning has already been issued that may trigger waves as high as 3 meters (10 feet).

The U.S Tsunami Warning System issued a warning that the tsunami waves can hit up to 10 feet in Vanuatu. Meanwhile, in Fiji, Australia, and French Polynesia, Peru, and Mexico, waves as high as 3 meters are expected.

In 2011, a 6.3-magnitude earthquake resulted in the death of as many as 185 people in Christchurch while destroying much of the downtown area.