Wednesday, July 15, 2009

NZ rocked by a major earthquake off the West Coast of South Island l ast night (16-7-2009)...

New Zealand was rocked by a major earthquake off the West Coast of South Island last night.

The quake first struck at 9.22pm measuring 7.8 magnitude while a large aftershock less than 20 minutes later was measured to be 6.1.

The US Geological Survey reported the quake was centred about 150km west of Invercargill, at a depth of about 35km.

Violent aftershocks were felt as far north as Wellington.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre in Hawaii originally issued a "potential tsunami" warning for the Southland area but this was cancelled by 11pm with the centre advising only small waves had been detected from the quake activity.

No casualties or serious damage has yet been reported as the epicentre was considerable distance from any townships, however, residents hundreds of kilometres away reported objects falling off shelves, short power outages and buildings were seen swaying.

Wanaka resident Simon Darby told the New Zealand Herald that he was forced to run outside his house.

"It must have lasted about two and half minutes. I lived in Tokyo for three years so I know what large quakes are like. Even though we are maybe 400km from the epicentre this was easily the longest and biggest I have ever felt.”

People ran from restaurants in Queenstown as buildings shook and lights went out.

In Australia, emergency services were all put on red alert as a tsunami warning was issued for the east coast while potential danger to low-lying and coastal areas was assessed.

Acknowledgements: MSN NZ Staff

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