Huge 5.9 magnitude earthquake strikes New Zealand

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New Zealand has been hit by a huge 5.9 magnitude earthquake that was felt across the country – with buildings shaking on both islands.

The quake struck near Nueva Plymouth on the North Island, but was felt as far south as Christchurch on the South Island, at 10.58am local time on Friday.

GeoNet said the quake was recorded at a depth of about 210km and was originally measured at 5.4 magnitude before being upgraded to 5.9. 

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was briefly rattled by the tremor, which struck as she was addressing the nation for a Covid-19 update.

Ms Ardern briefly grabbed her podium when the shaking began, smiled, and told a reporter: ‘Sorry, a slight distraction… would you mind repeating that question?’

She told reporters at the end of the event that Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson, who was also on the stage, was not entirely convinced it was an earthquake and wondered if it was just strong wind blowing.

More than 24,000 reports have been made to Geonet from residents who say they felt the earthquake – with 24 describing the tremors as ‘extreme’. 

One local in Richmond, 295km away from the epicentre said the quake ‘felt like someone was shaking the bed’.

‘There was one jolt followed by shaking, another jolt then more shaking. It seemed to go for 15 seconds,’ another in Palmerston 160km away said.

A third closer in Hastings wrote: ‘First I felt a dropping sensation while seated. I did hear a noise. After a moment the house started swaying, lights included.’ 

A video from a supermarket in Napier showed kitchenware shaking on shelves from what witnesses said was a ‘long and strong’ tremor. 

© Provided by Daily Mail (
© Provided by Daily Mail (

Ruapehu Civil Defence controller Clive Manley said there were no reports of damage.

New Zealand often experiences weak to medium intensity earthquakes as it lies on the seismically active ‘Ring of Fire’, a 40,000-km (24,855-mile) arc of volcanoes and ocean trenches girdling much of the Pacific Ocean.

The city of Christchurch is still recovering from a 6.3 magnitude quake in 2011 that killed 185 people.

In 2016, a 7.8 magnitude tremor hit the South Island town of Kaikoura, killing two and causing billions of dollars worth of damage, including in the capital Wellington, which is on the North Island. (Reporting by Praveen Menon; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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