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5.8 quake hits New Zealand, shakes buildings in Wellington

A magnitude 5.8 earthquake has struck around 90 kilometers northwest of Wellington, the capital of New Zealand. The tremor was felt by Kiwis all across the country’s North Island.

The quake struck shortly before 8am on Monday, local time. Occurring off the coast of New Zealand’s North Island, the shaking was felt by more than 35,000 people in Wellington and beyond, according to government seismic monitor Geonet.

The earthquake was followed by a number of aftershocks, none reaching more than 3.7 in magnitude. A 5.8 quake is classed as “moderate,” but such tremors are still capable of causing structural damage in populated areas. 

Train services in Wellington were suspended, as engineers inspected tracks for damage. No major damage to buildings in the capital was immediately reported.

Residents of the town of Levin, just 30km from the quake’s epicenter, were literally shaken awake.

The quake caught New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern mid-interview. The PM, who was responding to a question live on-air when the rattle occurred, appeared unperturbed by the mild shaking.

“We’re just having a bit of an earthquake here…quite a decent shake here,” Ardern said. Asked by the interview host if she wanted to resume the interview, Adern said she did not mind, quipping that she was “not under any hanging lights”

“I look like I am in a structurally strong place.”

New Zealand’s location on the seismically active Pacific Ring of Fire means the island nation is struck by a whopping 20,000 earthquakes every year, the vast majority of them too small to be felt.

A magnitude 6.2 quake in 2011 devastated the city of Christchurch, killing 185 people.

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