WELLINGTON: A powerful earthquake rattled major cities across New Zealand on Friday, sending terrified office workers fleeing as central Wellington shook “like jelly,” but authorities reported no major damage.
The 6.5-magnitude quake struck at 2:31 p.m. near an area where a series of quakes hit last month, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) said. It was felt from Christchurch in the South Island to Auckland in the North Island.
The USGS, which initially measured the quake at 6.8 magnitude, said it was centered five kilometers (three miles) east of the town of Seddon at a relatively shallow depth of 9.9 kilometers.
A cluster of major aftershocks measuring up to 5.9 followed but no tsunami alert was issued.
The tremors caused violent jolts in Wellington, where office workers dived under their desks for cover as buildings swayed and police had to rescue a number of people trapped in lifts.
Workers poured into the streets as aftershocks continued to rock high-rise blocks through the afternoon, with businesses telling staff to leave early and get out of the downtown area, causing gridlock in the capital.