Quakes rattle New Zealand but no reports of major damage

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — A series of moderately strong earthquakes rattled New Zealand’s North Island on Wednesday morning but there were no immediate reports of major damage or injuries.

A preliminary magnitude 5.4 quake hit the rural Hawke’s Bay region near the town of Dannevirke about 10:15 a.m. and was followed soon after by a preliminary magnitude 5.2 quake, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Several milder aftershocks followed. The quakes posed no threat of a tsunami, New Zealand’s National Emergency Management Agency said.

Near the epicenter, residents reported feeling a severe shaking as items crashed from shelves. Some schools evacuated.

The first quake was felt as a mild but long rumbling in the capital, Wellington, about 250 kilometers (155 miles) away. The nation’s earthquake monitoring agency, Geonet, received reports from more than 22,000 people who reported feeling the first quake.

New Zealand, which is home to 5 million people, is sometimes jokingly called the Shaky Isles due to the number of quakes it experiences. The nation sits on the “Ring of Fire,” an arc of seismic faults around the Pacific Ocean where earthquakes and volcanoes are common.

Copyright © 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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