Skip to main content

6.5-magnitude quake strikes New Zealand

By Jethro Mullen, CNN
updated 1:57 AM EDT, Fri August 16, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: A government official says there are no reports of serious damage
  • NEW: "We've certainly dodged a bullet," he says
  • NEW: Some people have been freed from elevators that stopped after the quake
  • Authorities says there is no tsunami threat

(CNN) -- A 6.5-magnitude earthquake struck New Zealand on Friday, disrupting transportation and trapping people in elevators.

But authorities said there were no reports of serious damage.

"We've certainly dodged a bullet," said Vince Cholewa, a spokesman for the civil defense ministry. "There are buildings that have lost some plaster. Some cracks in walls -- nothing major."

The epicenter of the quake was near the northern tip of the country's South Island, 14 miles south of the town of Blenheim, the the U.S. Geological Survey said. It struck at 2:31 p.m. local time and was followed by a series of aftershocks.

The quake was felt in the capital, Wellington, on the other side of the Cook Strait that lies between New Zealand's two main islands.

"It's very frightening," said Cholewa, who's based in Wellington. "I was on the eighth floor of a building and it certainly wobbled quite well. I was under my desk well and truly."

Earthquake damage outside Pencarrow House, Wellington, August 16, 2013. Instagram image courtesy @MaryTV
Earthquake damage outside Pencarrow House, Wellington, August 16, 2013. Instagram image courtesy @MaryTV

A number of people were freed from elevators that stopped in buildings in the central business district, Wellington police said.

Train services in and out of Wellington were suspended, worsening traffic congestion as lots of people left the city early by car and on foot.

NZX, the country's Wellington-based stock exchange, temporarily halted trading following the quake.

Initially reported at a higher magnitude of 6.8, the earthquake hit at a depth of 6.2 miles, the USGS said.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center and New Zealand authorities both said there was no tsunami threat.

New Zealand sits at the southwestern edge of the Pacific "ring of fire," an area of high seismic and volcanic activity that stretches up through Japan, across to Alaska and down the west coasts of North and South America.

In February 2011, a 6.3-magnitude earthquake toppled buildings in the South Island city of Christchurch, killing 185 people and injuring several thousand.

CNN's Pierre Meilhan and Kevin Wang contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 9:54 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
A decade on from devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the Red Cross' Matthias Schmale says that the lessons learned have made us safer.
updated 7:24 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
As soon as word broke that "The Interview" will hit some theaters, celebrations erupted across social media -- including from the stars of the film.
updated 1:44 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Did a rogue hacker -- or the U.S. government -- cut the cord for the regime's Internet?
updated 8:06 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Monaco's newborn royals, Princess Gabriella and Crown Prince Jacques Honore Rainier, posed for their first official photos with their parents.
updated 12:06 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Tim Berners-Lee, the man credited with inventing the world wide web, gives a speech on April 18, 2012 in Lyon, central France, during the World Wide Web 2012 international conference on April 18, 2012 in Lyon.
What's next for the Internet? Acclaimed scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee shares his insights.
updated 3:22 AM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
The United States and North Korea have long been locked in a bitter cycle of escalating and deescalating tensions. But the current cyber conflict may be especially hard to predict.
updated 4:00 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
A chilling video shows Boko Haram executing dozens of non-Muslims.
updated 6:34 AM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
New planes, new flight tests ... but will we get cheaper airfares?
updated 12:46 PM EST, Sun December 21, 2014
The killing of two cops could not have happened at a worse time for a city embroiled in a public battle over police-community relations, Errol Louis says.
updated 9:51 PM EST, Sun December 21, 2014
The gateway to Japan's capital, Tokyo Station, is celebrating its centennial this month -- and it has never looked better.
updated 11:21 AM EST, Sat December 20, 2014
Unicef has warned that more than 1.7 million children in conflict-torn areas of eastern Ukraine face an "extremely serious" situation.
updated 12:01 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT