Earthquake shakes New Zealand
on 16/08/2013 07:09:39
Some buildings in Wellington were evacuated and items were knocked off shelves in places. Police are trying to verify reports that one house near the quake's centre was severely damaged.
There were no initial reports of injuries.
The magnitude 6.8 quake struck just after 2.30pm local time near the South Island town of Seddon and was followed by a series of smaller aftershocks.
Boulders fell onto State Highway 1, the major route for traffic near Seddon, said police spokeswoman Barbara Dunn. She said she was trying to verify reports that one home in Seddon had been severely damaged.
The US Geological Survey said the epicentre was 94 kilometres (58 miles) west of Wellington at a depth of 10 kilometres (six miles).
Local authorities issued no tsunami warnings.
A quake of a similar strength in the same area three weeks ago broke water mains, smashed windows and downed power lines.
A severe earthquake in the city of Christchurch in 2011 killed 185 people and destroyed much of the city's centre.
Later, Ms Dunn said several homes near the epicentre had been severely damaged, with chimneys collapsing and roofs caving in.
She said a bridge had collapsed on State Highway 1, the major route for traffic near Seddon, as well as the rocks and debris that had fallen onto the road. Police have closed a section of the highway.
Police said a number of people were freed from Wellington elevators that had stopped working.
The initial tremor also temporarily closed down the nation's stock exchange. It was reopened at 3.45pm local time.