Magnitude 5.7 Quake Sends N.Z. Office Workers Ducking for Cover

An earthquake rattled central New Zealand today, shaking office towers in capital city Wellington and sending workers diving under their desks.

The magnitude 5.7 quake struck at 9:06 a.m. local time off the northern tip of New Zealand’s South Island, about 46 kilometers (28 miles) southwest of Wellington, at a depth of just 8 kilometers, according to GNS Science’s GeoNet service. A flurry of smaller shocks of as much as magnitude 3.7 followed.

Starting as a tremor, the earthquake built in intensity until office desks in Wellington shook and high-rise buildings swayed. It lasted for around 15 seconds. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries. The New Zealand dollar fell to as low as 78.8 U.S. cents on the quake before recovering to trade little changed at 79 cents at 11 a.m.

Workers took to Twitter and Facebook afterward to describe diving under their desks as the quake hit.

New Zealanders are particularly wary of earthquakes after 185 people died in Christchurch two years ago, when a magnitude 6.3 shake largely destroyed the central city. The nation sits on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, a belt of volcanic and earthquake activity related to edge of the tectonic plate below the Pacific Ocean.

To contact the reporter on this story: Matthew Brockett in Wellington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Matthew Brockett at

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