An earthquake of 6.5 magnitude hit New Zealand's South island on Friday. No casualties have been reported yet and the quake did little damage in the city of Wellington.
The quake hit Wellington, northern tip of South Island, just weeks after a similar tremor was felt a few weeks ago. This time it was 'dangerously shallow' at about 8 km in depth, according to Reuters.
"The building just shook and it went on and on and on. There's a lot of police out here and fire sirens going off. It's pretty frightening," Chris Birks, General Manager of the Hotel d'Urville in Blenheim that was near the epicentre, told the news agency.
Until now, the only reports of damage have been of shattered windows and tumbling of items in supermarkets, although there was a series of strong aftershocks.
Communication services such as airways, rail and bus were suspended due to the quake. Railway tracks and roads are being checked for damage.
Even trading at the New Zealand stock exchange was stopped temporarily. The New Zealand dollar slumped to a third of a US cent at $0.81.
Power outages were reported across the northern areas of the South Island. "It's very, very frightening and concerning for people, but it's been keep calm and carry on," said GNS Science's Bill Fry.
New Zealand experiences hundreds of low-intensity earthquakes annually as its two islands lie on the Australia-Pacific tectonic plate. But a 6.5 magnitude earthquake is a rarity.
According to Geonet.org, a website that monitors earthquakes and volcanic eruptions in the region, New Zealand experienced seven such severe earthquakes lying between 6-6.9 magnitude in 2011. The worst one was a 6.3 magnitude tremor that hit the Canterbury region in 2011, which left at least 200 killed and caused $30 billion in damage to Christchurch, New Zealand's second largest city.