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Little damage after major Fiordland quake

Published: 6:51AM Thursday July 16, 2009 Source: Newstalk ZB/ONE News

There are few reports of damage after a series of earthquakes at the bottom of the South Island overnight Wednesday.

A 7.8 magnitude quake at around 9.20pm on Wednesday, was centred 100 kilometres west of Tuatapere, at a depth of 12km, followed by two aftershocks, the first 6.1 magnitude around 20 minutes later, and the another 5.9 magnitude, at 1:50am Thursday morning.

The only reports of damage are some isolated power outages, a burst water main in Winton,  cracks in some buildings and products falling off shelves in shops.

It also downed some phone and power lines.

Residents near the quake say the shaking continued for a long time.

Tony Austin, Te Anau resident and owner of the Alphenhorn Motel in Te Anau, says the quake "came quietly and just built and built."

He says it felt far bigger than the other earthquakes they had in 2003 and 2004 and he is surprised that there has not been more damage.

GNS scientist Bill Fry says it is fortunate that the quake hit in an area that isn't very populated.

He says people should expect more aftershocks in the next few days, however he says they will be much smaller than the previous aftershocks.

He says the tsunami risk was real and had the potential to be much bigger even though it produced just a 17cm high ripple.

Officials will take to the air on Thursday morning to inspect the damage further and Environment Southland staff will be checking state highways, bridges and remote DOC huts, and be on the lookout for landslides.

Invercargill police Inspector Olaf Jensen said there were no immediate reports of damage in the southern city, but the quake was significant enough to send staff into doorways.

He described it as a strong, rolling quake rather than a sharp jolt.

People as far north as Taranaki felt the quake.

More than 14,000 earthquakes are recorded in New Zealand annually, but only about 20 are stronger than 5 on the Richter scale.

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  • emmskin said on 2009-07-18 @ 14:27 NZDT: Report abusive post

    i live in franz Josef. I was sitting watching a movie eating my dinner when the house started swaying, it was insane, the entire house was moving slowly side to side. Im terrofied of earthquakes, but googled what actually happens and why they occur and why we a due for a big one, i now understand and im not scared at all! i do beleive now its just waiting game as that earthquake just put more stress on the rocks and it going to ping back any day now

  • kirstinj said on 2009-07-16 @ 18:29 NZDT: Report abusive post

    I was wondering if anyone else felt a couple of quakes at about 2am on the 15th July, the night before the big one??? The first one woke me up, and not long after I felt another. I am in east otago.

  • brendono said on 2009-07-16 @ 17:44 NZDT: Report abusive post

    Christchurch. I didn't feel it at all, but I did watch our baby's hammoch swaying around at the time of the quake considerably more than a 16 day old baby could sway it. It was bizare seeing it until I found out the probable explanantion later.

  • georgieee said on 2009-07-16 @ 13:56 NZDT: Report abusive post

    Its such an un-natural feeling, the house shook so violently. Live in wanaka so we were quite close to it haha our dog slept through most of it, but i still dont like them one bit

  • Jesska said on 2009-07-16 @ 11:27 NZDT: Report abusive post

    Wow, that really freaked me out about the tsunami warning, i felt the earthquake but didnt think anything of it, thought i was tired and just kinda swaying myself but then my mum came in and said "look at the blinds-theyre moving...did you feel the earthquake?" then i freaked out.!