Wellington Earthquake: Thousands of people left in utter fear after earth tremor:
On Wednesday, February 15, 2023, it was reported that a 5.7 magnitude earthquake had struck near Wellington, the capital of New Zealand.
This came as the country was already dealing with severe landslides and flooding in a waterlogged area after a recent cyclone. New Zealand’s National Emergency Management Center tweeted that the quake was widely felt in the more populated North Island. But there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries, and no tsunami warning was issued.
The quake struck under the Cook Strait, which separates the North and South Islands, at a depth of 74 kilometers (50 miles). Meanwhile, Wellington, on the southern tip of the North Island, is also responding to the aftermath of Cyclone Gabrielle, which killed four people and is considered the most destructive weather event to hit New Zealand in decades.
Although Cyclone Gabrielle is moving away from New Zealand, a separate weather system is expected to bring more heavy rain in the coming days, increasing the likelihood of further landslides and flooding. New Zealand, with a population of 5 million, is located on the Ring of Fire, an arc of seismic faults around the Pacific Ocean where earthquakes are common.
Notably, a 2011 earthquake in Christchurch, a city on the South Island, killed 185 people and destroyed thousands of homes and buildings.
The most recent earthquake in New Zealand reportedly did not result in any immediate reports of damage or injuries. No tsunami warning was issued. The earthquake was followed by a magnitude 4.0 quake that occurred 20 minutes later about 45 km southwest of Taumarunui.
This was followed by another 2.0 magnitude quake with an epicenter 5 km from the same town. New Zealand lies on the Ring of Fire, a seismically active region due to its location on a 40,000-kilometer arc of volcanoes and ocean trenches that encircle a significant portion of the Pacific Ocean.
On Tuesday, more than 300 people were rescued from the Hawke’s Bay region, including 60 people stranded on a single roof. Emergency Management Minister Kieran McAnulty confirmed that emergency services were still carrying out rescues and land searches in a number of locations. MetService meteorologist Lewis Ferris said a weather station in the Hawke’s Bay and Napier region recorded three times more rain overnight than is typical for the whole of February.
By Wednesday afternoon, nearly 1,500 people were reported to be out of contact on the North Island. The New Zealand Herald also reported that about 144,000 properties on the island were still without power, down from 225,000 on Tuesday.
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