Panic set in for the woman living closest to the epicentre of the quake which shook Otago on Monday night, and the earth continued to ''grind'' and ''crack'' after it hit.

The Earthquake Commission had received 25 property damage claims by yesterday afternoon, after the magnitude-4.7 quake struck a second before 11.18pm, at a depth of 7km, centred just northeast of Lee Stream and 30km west of Dunedin.

Rachel Wilson, who lives close to Lee Stream School, on Minchmoore Farm, where the quake struck, said she and her husband were sleeping when the quake occurred.

''It's quite scary. Panic sets in and you have got three sleeping children and it's kind of like which way do you go first?'' The noise was what scared her most and was hard to describe.

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''Some people have said it sort of sounded like a freight train, but I reckon it was worse than that.''

For a while after the quake the earth continued to ''grind'' and ''crack''.

''We heard a couple of cracks, almost like gunshots.

''It was like thunder and they travelled further and further away from the house.''

Her husband Brendon, who manages the station, said the quake's epicentre was in the farm's deer unit, which according to Google maps is about 2.4km from their house.

A 4.1-magnitude quake which struck at a depth of 4km on October last year also had its epicentre on the farm.

An EQC spokeswoman said most of the 25 claims it had received yesterday were from Dunedin, with a couple in Invercargill and Christchurch.

Most claims were for damage to buildings, including damage to walls and ceilings.

More were expected, as people had three months from the day their property and or contents were damaged to contact EQC, she said.

Anyone who thought the quake had caused damage to their residential property could lodge a claim by calling 0800 DAMAGE (0800 326 243) or online at www.eqc.govt.nz.

GNS duty seismologist Carolyn Holden confirmed the earthquake was the strongest in the region since a magnitude-4.9 quake struck on April 9, 1974.

According to the GeoNet website, Monday night's quake was the second-strongest of nine earthquakes of magnitude 4 and above to have occurred in the Dunedin region since 1960.