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Magnitude 5.9 earthquake strikes New Zealand, PM Jacinda Ardern stays cool

May 25, 2020 | 08:55

A magnitude 5.9 earthquake struck near New Zealand's capital Wellington Monday morning, shaking many residents including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern who continued with a live TV interview at the parliament building.

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(Photo: CNA)

The earthquake was 46 kilometres (km) deep and 25km northwest of Levin, a city in New Zealand's North Island close to the capital Wellington, Reuters cited Geonet’s announcement.

As reported by US News, the earthquake lasts for more than 30 seconds and is first classified as magnitude 5.9 by Geonet.

A Reuters witness felt strong shaking in Wellington. Emergency officials said there were immediate reports of damage.

The earthquake causes panic and Wellington, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern stays cool on a live TV program

magnitude 59 earthquake strikes new zealand pm jacinda ardern stays cool
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, second from right, at high-school visit in Christchurch, New Zealand, on March 20. AP Photo/Vincent Thian

The magnitude 5.9 earthquake, however, caused panic in Wellington with several people in offices and homes getting under their tables for cover.

The tremors started as Ardern was on TV from the parliament building, called the beehive.

"Quite a decent shake here ... if you see things moving behind me. The beehive moves a little more than most," she joked on the AM Show on Newshub.

Ardern assured the host that she was safe and the interview resumed.

"I'm not under any hanging lights and I look like I am in a structurally strong place," she added.

When updated later on the earthquake she said it was "not an unreasonable shake".

New Zealand lies on the seismically active "Ring of Fire", a 40,000-km arc of volcanoes and ocean trenches girdling much of the Pacific Ocean.

The city of Christchurch is still recovering from a 6.3 magnitude quake in 2011 that killed 185 people.

In 2016, a 7.8 magnitude tremor hit the South Island town of Kaikoura, killing two and causing billions of dollars worth of damage, including in Wellington.

The shaking was felt by about 37,000 people on Geonet's app.

Emergency services in Wellington City said there were no immediate reports of damage. All trains in Wellington were suspended while engineers assessed the impact, the city's Metlink service said on Twitter.

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