Strong earthquake strikes near Wellington

A 5.8 magnitude earthquake has struck near Wellington.

It struck 34km deep, 30km northwest of Levin at 7.53am, according to Geonet.

The quake was felt as far north as Gisborne and near the bottom of the South Island, according to Geonet.

It was categorised as "strong".

More than 22,500 people had reported feeling the quake by 8am. Almost 100 said it felt "severe" while 10 said it felt "extreme."

A number of aftershocks have occurred in the area as well.

All are being categorised as "weak" earthquakes on the GeoNet website. The latest reported a 3.7 magnitude quake 30km north-west of Levin at a depth of 31km.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was live on television this morning, when the quake hit Wellington and she kept her cool throughout.

"We're just having a bit of an earthquake here," she said to Newshub host Ryan Bridge as the screen began to shake.

"Quite a decent shake here," she continued as the Covid-themed backdrops quivered behind her.

"The Beehive moves a little more than most," she quipped.

Whanganui District Council Mayor Hamish McDouall said the 5.8 magnitude quake was pretty sudden and came in strong and hard.

"It was a very jittery quake and it got a bit stronger but I was very impressed the kids automatically went under the breakfast table."

He said it was the strongest earthquake he has felt since the Kaikoura earthquake in 2016.

McDouall said he had heard of no reports of damage so far in the Whanganui district.

"It's a good reminder that we live on fairly seismic active land and we just have to make sure we have enough water for three or four days and the things that can fall over are tied back."

Newstalk ZB's Adam Cooper said it was a "very big quake".

"A rattler, went on for a long time," he said.

The New Zealand Herald's Belinda Feek said it could be felt in New Plymouth quite strongly.

She said it was still shaking slightly after about 30 seconds.

Newstalk ZB's Scarlett Cvitanovich said it was felt in Whanganui as well, saying it shook for around 30 seconds.

It was longer than most - in the past, earthquakes are short and sometimes sharp. But this morning's lasted a lot longer than normal, the Herald's Jason Walls said.

It happened when many commuters were coming into work, navigating already wet Wellington roads.

A Wellington man told the Herald it was "quite a big earthquake ... I'm in Otaki and had to run to a door."

Fire and Emergency NZ has not received any quake-related calls.

In Kapiti, the quake was felt strongly. Rosalie Willis said "pictures fell off my walls" and said the shaking lasted about 10 seconds - with "a rumbling" continuing for a lot longer.

Kapiti News editor David Haxton, his wife and two kids quickly gathered together in the middle of their Raumati Beach house as the shaking gripped the house.

"The cat bolted, thankfully there was no damage or worse, but it certainly raised the heart rate of everyone," he said


Earthquake ?? ... Sounds more like Simon was having a hissy fit and bashing his head into the wall again ...

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