New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been shaken by a 5.8 magnitude earthquake during a live television interview.
During the interview with Newshub presenter Ryan Bridge from the country’s parliament building – the Beehive – on Monday morning, Ms Adern suddenly went from talking about her partner Clarke’s shed to feeling the room shake.
“We’re just having a bit of an earthquake, Ryan,” she said.
Official directions from New Zealand’s geological hazard monitoring agency’s official during an earthquake are to “drop, cover and hold”. Despite that, a calm Ms Ardern remained standing and just looked to the ceiling to double check on the possibility of falling debris.
She smiled and assured Bridge and his viewers she was not “under any hanging lights”.
“It is quite a decent shake here, if you see things moving behind me,” she said. “The Beehive moves more than most.”
“I’m not under any hanging lights and I look like I am in a structurally strong place.
She said it was “not an unreasonable shake”.
When asked if she was feeling “safe and well” to continue the interview, she said: “We’re fine.”
The tremor, which struck just before 8am local time, lasted more than 30 seconds and caused panic in Wellington. Many in offices and homes got under tables for cover.
Tens of thousands of Kiwis reported feeling weak rattling as far north as Auckland and as far south as Dunedin.
In the capital, it brought sustained shaking for about 15 seconds as Kiwis prepared for their day.
The National Emergency Management Agency quickly ruled out the threat of tsunami.
Wellington councillor Fleur Fitzsimons claimed a strange coincidence during the rumble.
“Eek, on the phone to the Mayor talking about earthquake strengthening the Central Library when that earthquake hit! #eqnz #Wellington,” she wrote on Twitter.
Another Twitter user, Jords, compared the quake with coronavirus.
“I believe after earthquake and plague, the next one is frogs #EQNZ,” he wrote.
No building damage during shake
Emergency officials said there were no immediate reports of damage.
Geonet said the quake was 45 kilometres deep and centred 30 kilometres north-west of the town of Levin (which, in turn, is just north of Wellington).
“That was a sharp shake for a Monday morning, NZ! … We’ve registered nearly 37,000 felt reports from all over the country – from north of Auckland to Dunedin. Hope everyone’s OK!,” Geonet posted on Twitter shortly after the quake.
All trains were suspended in Wellington while engineers assessed the impact of the earthquake.
New Zealand lies on the seismically active Ring of Fire, a 40,000-kilometre arc of volcanoes and ocean trenches girdling much of the Pacific Ocean.
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 in damage, including in Wellington.