Earthquakes centred near St Arnaud

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Two earthquakes have hit the top half of the South Island this afternoon, the first of which was felt throughout Nelson, Christchurch and the lower North Island.

The first earthquake measured 6.3 on the Richter scale and struck at 3.36pm this afternoon, 40km north west of Kaikoura and 35km south east of St Arnaud. The second, at the same location, measured 4.2 on the Richter scale at 3.46pm.

St Arnuad Alpine Store owner Sandy Pearce says they lost “almost everything” from their shelves but there was no other damage. “We’re cleaning up now,” she says.

Murchison residents were also reporting some minor damage as a result of the earthquake with Murchison Supermarket’s Yoshima Shimauchi saying some items were shaken off their shelves.

River Cafe’s Debbie Kearney says their sole customer at the time shot out the door when the earthquake struck and the staff quickly followed.

“It was pretty bad but everyone is good. One of the guys had a quick drive around the town afterwards and things seemed okay,” Debbie says.

Lake Rotoiti School principal Giles Panting says “it was the noise that came first – there was quite a rumble and then the shake”.

“We still had quite a few children at the school but everyone is fine. They did all the right things, they got under tables and held onto the legs.

“We lost a few books off shelves but that’s about all. It looks like someone has just come along and pushed them over.”

In central Nelson, pale Dayna Rose rushed out of Dotti in Morrison Square during the quakes.

“I’ve never felt an earthquake in Nelson. I was by the computer and started feeling dizzy. All the jewellery was swaying so I ran outside. All the buildings were shaking and the plants were moving around. It gave me one hell of a fright,” she says.

Ruth Laws was sitting outside drinking coffee at Columbus and says it was one of the strongest quakes she had felt. “We were outside having coffee. All the buildings were shaking, you could feel it in the ground.”

Deni and Abe Oskam were in a clothing store. “We were in a shop and all the clothes racks were rocking back and forwards,” says Deni.

“The first bit was light and then it got bigger and bigger. I got away from the building,” says Abe.

Spark says its network is down due to extra demand after the earthquakes. “Bit of a shake there! Looks like our network is ok, and we hope you are too! There’s a lot of congestion in the Wellington area that is affecting other parts of the network in other parts of the country now too. We’re working on it, thanks for your patience,” it wrote on its Facebook page.

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