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New Zealand earthquake: PM Jacinda Ardern shaken as huge 5.8 quake disrupts TV interview

New Zealand earthquake: A huge 5.8 quake struck near Wellington (Image: TWITTER)

The earthquake was 37 kms deep and the epicentre was 30 km northwest of Levin, a city in New Zealand’s North Island close to the capital Wellington, according to Geonet. Geonet first classified the earthquake as magnitude 5.9. Although no damages were reported it lasted for more than 30 seconds and caused panic in Wellington with several people in offices and homes getting under their tables for cover.

Ardern was being interviewed in the executive government building, known as the Beehive, live on television channel Three, when the quake hit.

“Quite a decent shake here … if you see things moving behind me. The beehive moves a little more than most,” she joked on the AM Show on Newshub.

After concern grew over her welfare, Ardern assured the host that she was safe and the interview resumed.

She said: “I’m not under any hanging lights and I look like I am in a structurally strong place.”

When updated later on the earthquake she said it was “not an unreasonable shake”.

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New Zealand lies on the seismically active “Ring of Fire”, a 40,000-km arc of volcanoes and ocean trenches girdling much of the Pacific Ocean.

The city of Christchurch is still recovering from a 6.3 magnitude quake in 2011 that killed 185 people.

In 2016, a 7.8 magnitude tremor hit the South Island town of Kaikoura, killing two and causing billions of dollars worth of damage, including in Wellington.

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New Zealand earthquake: The quake rocked Wellington (Image: USGS)

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New Zealand earthquake: The PM was all smiles as she felt the tremors (Image: TWITTER)

The shaking was felt by about 37,000 people on Geonet’s app.

Emergency services in Wellington City said there were no immediate reports of damage.

All trains in Wellington were suspended while engineers assessed the impact, the city’s Metlink service said on Twitter.

The earthquake on Monday was followed by a number of aftershocks in the area.

New Zealand earthquake: Jacinda was quick to reassure the host she was safe (Image: TWITTER)

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Thousands of Kiwis said they felt rattling as far north as Auckland, as well as far south as Dunedin, the Guardian reported.

A Wellington councillor, Fleur Fitzsimons, reported the quake hit at a strange time.

She wrote on Twitter: “Eek, on the phone to the mayor talking about earthquake strengthening the Central Library when that earthquake hit! #eqnz #Wellington.”

The capital saw sustained shaking for around 15 seconds at 7.53am NZST.

New Zealand earthquake: No damage has been reported (Image: USGS)

Labour MP for Wellington Central Grant Robertson tweeted: “Not what we need right now.”

Other Twitter users praised the Prime Minister for the way she handled the situation.

One said: “Why am I not surprised that Jacinda Ardern casually takes an earthquake interrupting her interview in her stride?”

Another simply added: “@jacindaardern You are sensational.”

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