Northlander coping in shaky capital

By Kristin Edge

An early morning earthquake rocked Wellington and jolted police Inspector Chris Scahill awake on the second floor of his apartment building yesterday.

Workers and shoppers are returning to Wellington yesterday after many businesses closed their doors in the wake of Sunday's violent 6.5 magnitude earthquake.

Mr Scahill, former Mid/Far North police area commander, now working in central Wellington said it was the first time he had experienced a decent earthquake since moving to the city nearly two years ago.

Aftershocks continued to rumble overnight with the strongest measuring magnitude 5, striking about 1.30am yesterday. It was that one that shook Mr Scahill from his sleep.

"I woke up and the whole bed was swaying back and forth and you could hear the walls moving.

"In the apartment you can see the hairline cracks in the wall and the paint has cracked off. There were flakes of paint all over the floor."

He said it was a scary experience and there were certainly some nervous people in Wellington at the moment.

"The question in everyone's mind now is 'What's next?' Has it set the scene for the same size quake or bigger on one of these fault lines?"

He missed "the big one" as he was back in Kerikeri visiting his family last weekend.

He said he returned to his flat to find bookshelves tipped over and cracks in the walls.

He was back at work yesterday in his role as Acting National Manager of Operations.

The chance of an aftershock measuring up to 6 in magnitude in the week following the quake remained at 19 per cent.

Of the nearly 2500 buildings inspected in the Wellington area, engineers discovered about 35 with superficial damage.

Whangarei entertainer Luke Bird was on plane returning to Wellington from Whangarei when the big one hit on Sunday.

He had been in Auckland airport where things "were manic" and everyone trying to get bags off planes that were delayed because of fears Wellington Airport runway was damaged.

Mr Bird's plane eventually got to Wellington where he described the atmosphere as "eerie".

Some buildings were cordoned off in CBD but he said:"It doesn't really feel like we're in a quake zone in immediate danger but some people are tense and get very nervous when they feel the tremors."

He is working temporarily at IRD and yesterday staff were reassured the building was safe. GNS Science seismologist Ken Gledhill said the quake was a "one-in-several-decades event" and the many aftershocks were normal.

- Northern Advocate

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