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The 53,000 joined almost 800,000 across New Zealand in the annual event.
The ShakeOut earthquake drill taught people to drop to their hands and knees to protect from falling, cover their head and neck under a sturdy table or desk, and hold on to the shelter until the shaking stopped.
Exactly those actions were happening at Cargill Enterprises in Hillside Rd, which employs people with disabilities, at the designated time of 1.30pm.
Cargill Enterprises chief executive Geoff Kemp said the organisation, which had 84 staff, ran a wellness programme, and giving workers skills to protect themselves in an earthquake was part of that.
There had been daily meetings for the last two weeks discussing what a "good drop, cover hold would look like", and what could be improved upon.
"Safety and wellness is a very big part of what we do."
Emergency Management Otago (EMO) director Chris Hawker said numbers were up this year compared to last year.
An EMO public awareness and preparedness survey found 83% of Otago residents understood earthquakes could directly affect them and their family, but not everyone knew what to do.
"Otago is laced with active fault lines, including the Titri, Akatore, Moonlight and Cardrona faults.
"Any one of them is capable of causing a severe earthquake that would result in casualties, damage to buildings and infrastructure, and extended disruption to normal life."
Taking part in the drill helped people learn the right way to respond, and could save lives, Mr Hawker said.