Jacinda Ardern stays cool as earthquake rattles New Zealand capital

Environment

WELLINGTON (Reuters) – An earthquake struck near New Zealand’s capital on Monday morning, shaking many residents including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern who continued with a live TV interview at the parliament building.

FILE PHOTO: Pedestrians walk across a road in front of the New Zealand parliament building known as the Beehive in central Wellington, New Zealand, July 3, 2017. Picture taken July 3, 2017. REUTERS/David Gray

The 5.8 magnitude earthquake was 37 kms deep and the epicentre was 30 km northwest of Levin, a city in New Zealand’s North Island close to the capital Wellington, according to Geonet.

Geonet first classified the earthquake as magnitude 5.9. Although no damages were reported it lasted for more than 30 seconds and caused panic in Wellington with several people in offices and homes getting under their tables for cover.

The tremors started as Ardern was on TV from the parliament building, called the beehive.

“Quite a decent shake here … if you see things moving behind me. The beehive moves a little more than most,” she joked on the AM Show on Newshub.

Ardern assured the host that she was safe and the interview resumed.

“I’m not under any hanging lights and I look like I am in a structurally strong place,” she added.

When updated later on the earthquake she said it was “not an unreasonable shake”.

New Zealand lies on the seismically active “Ring of Fire”, a 40,000-km 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 Wellington.

The shaking was felt by about 37,000 people on Geonet’s app.

Emergency services in Wellington City said there were no immediate reports of damage. All trains in Wellington were suspended while engineers assessed the impact, the city’s Metlink service said on Twitter.

The earthquake on Monday was followed by a number of aftershocks in the area.

Reporting by Praveen Menon; editing by Grant McCool

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