More than 50 pupils were absent from Keith St School in Whanganui on Monday as children recovered from shock and sleep deprivation following a 7.5 magnitude earthquake in the early hours of Monday morning.

For those who made it to school, there was drop, cover and hold drills as well as writing exercises to describe what the earthquake felt like.

Unique Moana 10, had caught up with the latest news updates on the earthquake and all the subsequent aftershocks.

"I watched the TV news before school and I have been looking up information on the internet as well," she said.

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Some of Unique's classmates had written about their personal experiences of being woken by the tremors shortly after midnight.

"I dreamed I was on a boat and it was rocking really badly," said 10-year-old Mykal Fold.
Shyan Andrews 10, said she felt her bed rocking and heard the windows rattling.

Some pupils said the electricity had gone off at their homes while others said things had fallen from shelves and cupboards.

Keith St principal Linda Ireton said the school's phone system was down yesterday although she had been able to confirm that most of the children were absent because they were tired and anxious after the early morning earthquake.

"We have been doing drills today to help reassure the children who are at school and writing and talking about their experiences has been really helpful too."

Other schools in Whanganui also reported a few absences and Tawhero School principal Chris Dibben said parents had sent text messages to say that their children had been awake after the earthquake and needed sleep.

"We do regular drills at school and it was good to hear the children who were at school saying they remembered what to do in an earthquake," he said.