Seddon thumped again, but Geonet reduces odds of another 6+ quake
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UPDATE / Aug 18: Seddon was hit by a 5.5 magnitude quake shortly after 9pm last night. There were no reports of injuries or further major damage to the quake-rattled town.
Geonet says chances of another major quake have overall, however.
The GNS unit says there is now a 7% chance of a 6+ quake in the Cook Strait region over the next 24 hours (down from the 28% estimate yesterday).
The probability of a 6+ quake in the next week is put at 21%
There is a 56% chance of a 5+ quake in the next 24 hours (down from yesterday's 99% estimate) and a 90% chance of a 5+ over the next seven days (down from 94%).
Central NZ braces for more quakes
UPDATE / Aug 17: Geonet says there is a nearly one-in-three chance that a magnitude 6 or larger quake will shake the central North Island today.
The GNS unit says there is a 28% chance of a magnitude 6 or larger quake over the next 24 hours, and 38% over the next seven days.
There is a 99% chance of a magnitude 5 or larger quake over the next 24 hours, and a 94% probability over the next week.
The 6.6 quake that struck at 2.31pm yesterday, near Lake Grassmere in Malborough, was followed a serious of major aftershocks, including a cluster above magnitude 6 just after 5.31pm.
There were frayed nervers and commuter chaos as the CBD was largely empty, but no reports of injury or major property damage.
The emergency demolition of a quake-damaged nine-storey lift shaft in Lukes Lane between Manners St and Taranaki St in the CBD will begin today. The shaft, which is attached to the James Smith parking building, was already damaged after the July 21 quake.
In the small town of Seddon, there was widespread damage to roofs and chimneys, and one house (pictured) suffered partial collapse.
Another big quake rocks central NZ
Aug 16: The Wellington CBD has been largely emptied out following another big quake that rocked central New Zealand.
GeoNet initially reported the quake at 6.9 at 2.31pm, 10 km south-east of Seddon at a depth of 8km, but later adjusted it to 6.6. It was followed by aftershocks of up to 5.9 into the early evening. At 6.30pm, GeoNet repoted a cluster of aftershocks between 6 and 6.3.
Centred on Seddon in Marlborough, the jolt was felt as far north as Hamilton and Auckland.
There were no immediate reports of injury or major property damage. Early reports said there was some damage to the City Art Gallery and the Statistics NZ building. The emergency demolition of a quake-damaged nine-storey lift shaft in Lukes Lane off Manners St in the CBD will begin on Saturday.
NBR reporter Rob Hosking says no damage is evident on Featherston St in the CBD. The street was filled with people txting. Roads out of the city are clogged, Mr Hosking says.
"It was a very slow start that built up into a real roller. I'm in the CBD. A lot of people just ran out into the middle of the road," Wellington man Ian Apperley told NBR at 3.pm. "We're getting aftershocks every every two or three minutes. It's like being on a boat."
NBR publisher Todd Scott, who was walking down Lampton Quay with property investor Bob Jones as the quake hit, describes it as a "viscous jolt." Many were evacuating the city, but others like Messrs Scott and Jones stayed in the CBD.
In a 3.30pm advisory, Telecom said there was no major network damage. Outages are blamed on congestion and overloading. Vodafone reported power failures at two mobile sites, but at 4.15pm said congestion was tailing off. Chorus reported no major damage to its network. Like most businesses, it had sent staff home.
There were scattered reports of power outages.
A number of large office buildings in central Wellington are being evacuated and several government agencies have told their staff to go home.
A worker on the 17th floor of the AA headquarters in Auckland's Albert St said the building was shaking and light fittings rocking for about 30 to 40 seconds.
He said there appeared to be no damage or injuries and no one left the building. He said while the building was shaking he described it as the gentle rocking of a boat.
The NZX has halted all trading, but is due to reopen 3.45pm [UPDATE: it resumed trading as scheduled, dropping 0.42%].
The kiwi fell to 80.57 US cents at 2.45pm in Wellington from 80.98 cents and the trade-weighted index was 75.70 from 76.04. The two-year swap rate fell 6 basis points to 3.445.
Wellington Airport is opening and buses are running but all train service has been cancelled while rail line checks are carried out.
"There's always the unknown factor when you hear earthquake news," said Alex Hill, head of dealing at HiFX in Auckland. "Markets will fear the worst initially until you start to get some visuals coming through."
The kiwi may recover toward the end of the day assuming no reports of major damage or further shakes, Mr Hill says.
Parts of Wellington were shut down for a day in July when a 6.9 magnitude quake hit the Cook Strait, damaging 35 buildings and claiming part of the CentrePort wharf.