New Zealand is already reeling from a cyclone that this week claimed four lives and left homes underwater
A magnitude 6.1 earthquake struck near New Zealand’s capital Wellington on Wednesday, as the nation grapples with widespread landslides and flooding following a cyclone.
New Zealand’s National Emergency Management Centre tweeted that the shake was “widely felt in the North Island”, but there were no immediate reports of damage or injury and no tsunami warning.
The quake struck under the Cook Strait that separates the North and South islands at a depth of 74km (50 miles), the US Geological Survey (USGS) reported.
Government seismic monitor Geonet said earthquake measured magnitude 6.1, while USGS placed it slightly lower at 5.7.
Witnesses in Wellington, on the southern end of New Zealand’s more populous North Island, reported feeling a strong shaking that lasted several seconds.
The earthquake comes as New Zealnd responds to a cyclone – the South Pacific nation’s most destructive weather event in decades – that this week left four people dead.
A firefighter who studied in London has been named among those killed in the cyclone, which struck the country’s north on Monday.
The catastrophic weather event prompted the New Zealand government to declare a state of national emergency for only the third time in history, as residents were forced to swim to safety and some had to be rescued from rooftops.
While Cyclone Gabrielle is moving away from New Zealand, an unrelated weather system is forecast to bring more heavy rain in the days ahead, which will increase risks of further landslides and flooding.
The nation of five million people sits on the ‘Ring of Fire’ – a 40,000km arc of seismic faults around the Pacific Ocean where earthquakes are common.
An earthquake in Christchurch on the South Island in 2011 killed 185 people and destroyed thousands of homes and buildings.