A magnitude 6.1 earthquake rocked New Zealand just one day after a devastating cyclone placed the country into a state of emergency over parts of the country.
According to an official monitoring service, the quake struck beneath the Cook Strait, which separates New Zealand’s North and South Islands, at 7.38 p.m. local time.It was felt powerfully in Wellington for many seconds, according to reports.
According to the seismic monitoring agency Geonet, the tremor struck at a depth of 48 kilometres, with its epicentre approximately 50 kilometres from the town of Paraparaumu. It “caused a long and powerful tremor felt broadly across the North Island and Marlborough region,” according to Geonet, which received over 60,000 felt reports, 23,000 of which described it as a “mild” quake and fewer than 5,000 as a “severe” quake. It was followed by a magnitude 4.0 tremor 20 minutes later, 45 kilometres south-west of Taumarunui, and happened just over 10 hours after a magnitude 2.0 tremor with an epicentre 5 kilometres from the same town, according to the monitoring service.
The earthquake comes just days after Cyclone Gabrielle devastated New Zealand’s North Island, killing at least four people and displacing over 10,000 people in the country’s most severe weather disaster in decades.New Zealand is located on the seismically active “Ring of Fire,” a 40,000-kilometer arc of volcanoes and ocean trenches that encircles the Pacific Ocean. While the cyclone is now moving away from New Zealand, an unrelated weather system is expected to produce further heavy rain in the coming days, increasing the risk of additional landslides and flooding.
On Tuesday, more than 300 people were evacuated from the Hawke’s Bay district, including 60 who were trapped on a single roof. In the North, about 1,500 people were reported to be uncontactable. MetService meteorologist Lewis Ferris said a weather station in the Hawke’s Bay and Napier region had recorded three times more rain overnight than usual for the entire month of February.