‘Short, sharp’ earthquake forces plane heading to Wellington to be diverted

Magnitude 5.8 earthquake, 30 km north-east of French Pass was felt by over 44,000 people last night.


Magnitude 5.8 earthquake, 30 km north-east of French Pass was felt by over 44,000 people last night.

From a disturbed cat to a plane being diverted, there were mixed reactions to a 5.8 magnitude earthquake that rattled homes all over the country on Thursday evening.

It struck at 9.07pm, and was centred 30km north-east of French Pass at a depth of 51km, GNS Science said.

More than 44,000 people reported feeling the quake – residents from across the motu, including Christchurch, Motueka, Wairarapa, Raglan, New Plymouth and South Auckland.

About 44 people about the country rated the shaking as extreme, including reports from Auckland and Christchurch.

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Larry Nicholson, visiting relatives in Palmerston North, was into bed when he felt the quake.

“It was short and it was sharp. It definitely rocked the bed, no doubt,” he said.

A passenger on Air New Zealand flight NZ457 from Auckland to Wellington said their flight was unable to land safely in Wellington and was diverted to Christchurch as a result of the quake.

Wellington Airport confirmed one flight was affected.

K W Austin said he was watching a movie in his Masterton home when the quake hit.

“I felt the cat jump on to the back of the couch. Only there was no cat when I looked,” Austin said.

Austin said he knew there was a quake when he heard the crockery still rattling in his lounge after the jolt.

One resident in Foxton Beach said they felt a “very strong” shake, “rolling for a long time”.

Alison Armstrong, of Nelson, said the “long, strong” quake gave her quite a fright.

“It’s been a while since the Kaikōura, Seddon quakes. So [it was] quite a wake-up call,” she said.

As of 7am on Friday there were no reports of significant aftershocks on the GeoNet website.

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