A strong earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale has jolted New Zealand’s capital, halting air and rail services, but there have been no immediate reports of damage or injuries.
According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), the tremor occurred at 2:30 p.m. local time (0230 GMT) on Friday, centered near the South Island town of Seddon, 94 kilometers (58 miles) west of the capital Wellington, at a depth of ten kilometers (six miles). The quake was followed later by several aftershocks, but no tsunami alert has been issued. Authorities said it is too early to assess the impact, though there have been reports of superficial damage to buildings. There have been no reports of casualties as of yet. All air and train services were suspended after the quakes, and TranzMetro said delays can be expected. New Zealand is part of an area known as the “Ring of Fire” - where a large number of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur. In 2011, a 6.3-magnitude quake killed 185 people and destroyed much of New Zealand’s second largest city, Christchurch. Recent quakes have been centered about 200 kilometers north of New Zealand’s second largest city Christchurch, where a 6.3-magnitude quake on February 22, 2011 struck the cathedral city on South Island.