“Massive” earthquake shakes thousands in New Zealand


A magnitude 6.1 earthquake has shaken tens of thousands of New Zealanders on Wednesday evening, jolting both islands in the wake of former Tropical Cyclone Gabrielle.

The quake started with a jolt, followed by a “long and strong shake”, according to GeoNet.

It reported the quake started at 7.38pm (local time) around 50km northwest of Paraparaumu, 55km north of Wellington, at a depth of 48km.

More than 61,000 people reported feeling the tremor across the north and south islands.

People in Wellington told the NZ Herald there was a “big bump” before homes started shaking “aggressively for about 30 seconds, before swaying”. A steady rumble reportedly followed afterwards.

One woman at a preview screening of the upcoming Antman movie, said a third of the theatre fled when the earthquake struck.

“At the Antman preview screening in Wellington, (an) earthquake just hit and like a third of the theatre is like nah we’re outta here,” she said.

“It was like a freight train hurtling past our house,” said David Haxton, who lives in Raumati Beach, of the first quake.

”My wife, our two kids, and I quickly gathered under a doorway and waited for the shaking to subside.

”It felt like it lasted for about 30 seconds. Everyone’s heartbeats were racing.

”The family dog was more interested in the food on our dinner plates as we scarpered to the doorway.”

Nelson’s Jan McCallum said the quake started with gentle shaking, then “big jolts”.

”The whole two-storied house shook fiercely!”

Newstalk ZB’s chief political reporter Aaron Dahmen, in Wellington, said he felt “a big bump, and then the whole house shook aggressively for about 30 seconds, before swaying. A steady rumble followed for some time.”

The 6.1 tremor was followed by a weaker earthquake at 8pm near Taupō, more than 350km north of Wellington.

The smaller, magnitude 4 quake was located 45 km southwest of Taumarunui, southwest of west of Taupō, at a depth of 78 km.

More than 3600 people reported the quake to GeoNet, which it classed as “weak”.

The National Emergency Management Agency has advised there is no tsunami threat.

There have not been any Fire and Emergency call-outs to damage from the earthquake near Wellington so far, according to local media reports.

The quakes come just two days after a “moderate” 4.4 magnitude earthquake struck 25km west of Gisborne, in the northeast of the North Island while the region was being lashed by former Tropical Cyclone Gabrielle on Monday night.

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New Zealand authorities say four people, including a child, are dead in the wake of the cyclone.

More than 29,000 air travellers were left stranded when the cyclone caused almost all flights in and out of Auckland to be cancelled on Monday.

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