Big earthquake felt across both islands


A "rock 'n' roller" earthquake struck near Tokoroa on Saturday and was felt as far north as Kerikeri and as far south as Southland, and in Hawke's Bay.

According to GeoNet, more than 10,000 people reported feeling the magnitude 5.8 quake, which occurred at 7.19am, 20km southeast of Tokoroa at a depth of 175km.

Activity on Hawke's Bay Today's Facebook page reported no serious damage, although there were some frayed nerves.

Vanessa Rau wrote: "What a rumble! we heard it before we felt it."

The only damage reported was broken picture frames and drinking glasses that had fallen from shelves.

"No damage but felt big here in Taradale!" Lan Weir posted.

"Heard something, got up, walked to the door then decided to hang in the doorway for a few creaky seconds," Jeremy Allan D'Herville, in Nelson, said on Twitter. "It was one juicy rock 'n' roller."

Caroline Milligan, commentator on social media use in emergency management, felt the quake at home in Ashhurst near Palmerston North.

"The whole house started rocking and then I heard something fall," she said. "It went on for about 20 seconds. After about 15 seconds it started to taper off, and that's when I got up to pick up my computer."

The quake knocked over photographs and caused the remote controls in her living room to fall to the floor.

It also livened up the day for some tourists staying at Toad Hall Backpackers on Bluff Hill.

"Toad Hall Backpackers rattled," Ruthie Emeny said on Facebook. "Even the basement, which usually absorbs everything, got a shake. A few excited internationals experiencing an earthquake for the first time."

GNS seismologist Anna Kaiser said the earthquake would not cause any further volcanic activity for Mt Tongariro, about 120km to the south. "It's part of a totally different system."

Nor was it related to the magnitude 7.3 quake which hit northeastern Japan on Friday night.

"We get quakes like this from time to time and although it's a magnitude 5.8, which is moderate, it was very deep," Ms Kaiser said. "But it was felt over a very wide area, in part because of where it occurred, in a subducting plate system where the Pacific Plate goes under Australian Plate."

Police and the Fire Service received several calls but no reports of serious damage.Meanwhile, it was announced on Friday that all non-residential buildings and high-rise, multi-unit apartments in New Zealand will be assessed for earthquake risk, with the results to be made public under new Government proposals.

Any buildings found to be at risk of collapse will have to be strengthened or demolished within 15 years under the proposed changes, which form the Government's response to a Royal Commission investigation into buildings following the Canterbury quakes.

GOVERNMENT'S PROPOSALS

Royal Commission recommendation:

*Quake-prone buildings should be strengthened to minimum of 50 per cent of building code.

Government response:

*Keep minimum threshold at 33 per cent of building code.

Royal Commission recommendation:

*Assess unreinforced masonry structures within two years and strengthen them within seven years.

Government response:

*Assess unreinforced masonry (and all other vulnerable buildings) within five years, and strengthen or demolish them within 15 years.

Royal Commission recommendation:

*Give councils option of requiring faster timeframes for strengthening or higher strengthening standards, after consultation with community.

Government response:

*Set national timeframes for assessment, strengthening or demolition, and a national minimum strengthening level.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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