New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been shaken by a magnitude 5.8 earthquake during a live television interview.
- The initial tremor lasted more than 30 seconds but caused no damage
- Ms Ardern assured an interviewer “I’m not under any hanging lights”
- Residents on the north and south islands reported feeling the quake
The tremor lasted for more than 30 seconds and caused panic in Wellington, with several people in offices and homes getting under their tables for cover just before 8:00am local time.
However, emergency officials said there were no immediate reports of damage.
Geonet said the quake was 45 kilometres deep and centred 30km north-west of the town of Levin.
Tens of thousands of people — from the Far North to Dunedin on the South Island — reported feeling the quake.
‘Quite a decent shake’
Among them was Ms Ardern, who continued with a live TV interview at the nation’s parliament building, known as 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.
Ms Ardern assured the host 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 said.
She later said it was “not an unreasonable shake”.
Trains suspended in Wellington
Geonet originally graded the quake a 5.9, and it was followed by a 3.5-magnitude shake, then one of 3.6, then 3.7.
A witness felt strong shaking in Wellington, where all trains were suspended while engineers assessed the impact.
“Not what we need right now…” Finance Minister Grant Robertson said in a tweet.
New Zealand lies on the seismically active Ring of Fire, a 40,000km 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 in damage, including in Wellington.