Picture courtesy: Terry Philpott

A 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck New Zealand on Nov 13, killing two people. This temblor was followed by another 6.2 magnitude shock on Monday. A tsunami warning was issued which led to mass evacuations.

A large surge in the sea hit Wellington in the North Island and Christchurch. 

Though the U.S. Geological Survey measured the first quake at 7.8, New Zealand’s Geonet measured the first quake at magnitude 7.5. The aftershocks  jolted buildings as far as Wellington, 300 km (185 miles) to the northeast.

Prime Minister of New Zealand, John Key, while addressing a news conference in Wellington, said, “We don’t have any indications at the moment to believe it (the death toll) will rise, but we can’t rule that out,” he said. “It was the most significant shock I can remember in Wellington. There will be quite major costs around roads and infrastructure.” He also stated that a military helicopter was being sent off to Kaikoura, the epicentre of the quake.

Police said one of the victims was found in a house in the coastal tourist town of Kaikoura.

A second earthquake, firstly determined at magnitude-6.8 but later reviewed down to 6.2, struck the South Island later, but fortunately, there were no reports of injuries or death.  Infrastructure was majorly hit. Orders were given to shut down roads and rail links in the northern part of the island after landslides and crackings were reported.

Regional Civil Defence Controller Richard McNamara said,”It’s our opinion that they’re going to be out for quite some time. You only have to look at photos in the media and on social media to tell you that there is a huge amount of damage on state highway one and the main trunk line”, adding that one of the huge difficulties would be reconstructing. The power and phone lines were down in many parts of the country.

Australia’s Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, told Sunrise this morning that he had called his New Zealand counterpart to offer assistance.”I spoke with John Key a few moments ago. I assured him of absolute solidarity and support from Australia,” he said. “He knows that we support them when it comes to emergencies and natural disasters.”

An Australian journalist Gemma Snowdon, told the ABC that the violent tremors jolted her out of her sleep.“I ran outside with my housemates and we quickly realised what was going on and the ground just shook and shook and shook and it seemed never-ending. I have been hearing sirens and alarms going off throughout the city. I think everyone is a bit shaken up by this,” she said.

The earthquake hit at a fairly shallow depth of 10 kilometres. Earthquakes are stronger when their depth is shallow. New Zealand sits on a crescent  of seismic (unstable) faults around the Pacific Ocean called the “Ring of Fire”, which makes earthquakes very likely.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here