Marlborough slammed by big quake

Aftermath:  The magnitude-6.5 earthquake yesterday threw grocery products from their shelves at New World Blenheim, forcing it to close
Aftermath: The magnitude-6.5 earthquake yesterday threw grocery products from their shelves at New World Blenheim, forcing it to close


Seddon man Murray Gray was finishing his pint at the Starborough Tavern when yesterday's 6.5-magnitude earthquake hit.

Bottles fell off shelves and smashed on the floor, and the power went out, Mr Gray said. "S..., she shook out here," he said. "It was pretty terrifying."

Mr Gray decided it was time to get home but had a look through the bottle shop door first.

"There was crap all over the floor but I wasn't hanging around," he said.

Back at his house, all the pictures were off the walls, and cupboards and drawers had opened.

His wall clock had stopped at 5.10pm.


Marlburians were given clear warning before the magnitude-6.5 earthquake that hit at 5.09pm yesterday.

A swarm of quakes had shaken the region throughout the weekend, beginning on Friday morning.

The big shake, centred 20 kilometres east of Seddon at a depth of 17km, hit just as the Hooked on Boar's Boar Slaying Super Comp prizegiving in Renwick wrapped up.

Hundreds of people at the sportsground quietened as the quake rolled through, the ground seemed to swell beneath their feet like a wave, and the windows at the Giesen Sports and Events Centre appeared to ripple like liquid.

In the Blenheim New World and Countdown stores, stock rained from the shelves and shaken staff ushered shoppers outside.

Phone lines jammed when people tried to call to check on family, friends and workmates, as aftershocks continued to hit the region.

Fire service crews scrambled to deal with reports of slips, fallen chimneys, burst water pipes and water tanks and fallen power lines, but there were no reports of any injuries in relation to the earthquakes.

Robyn Dawson and Ash Hamilton were at home in Caseys Rd, 20km southeast of Seddon, near the epicentre of the 5.09pm quake, when it struck.

"It was terrifying; everything was smashing around us, pictures came flying off the walls, crockery was smashed. It was pretty bad," Ms Dawson said.

Their coal range stove and kitchen joinery was shunted off balance by the force of the quake, and the hot-water cylinder burst, flooding the kitchen, she said.

Her husband drilled holes in the floor to drain the water.

After checking on their neighbours, the pair tried to relax with a cup of tea last night, waiting for this morning to assess the damage, she said.

Several aftershocks of around magnitudes 4 and 5, including a 5.3 at 5.13pm and a 5 at 8.27pm, followed the initial quake.

The weekend of shakes started on Friday morning when a magnitude-5.7 quake hit.

It was followed by several aftershocks, including a magnitude-4.5 at 3.21pm.

Yesterday, the region was jolted awake by a magnitude-5.8 at 7.17am, followed by dozens of aftershocks, including a magnitude-4.9 at 10.55am and a magnitude-4.4 at 1.15pm.

Blenheim New World and Countdown stores closed after the earthquake last night.

A spokeswoman for Countdown Blenheim said they reopened at 6.45pm after staff cleaned up the mess.

The building appeared to be structurally sound and there were no visible cracks, she said.

They had been inundated with people "panic buying" and stocking up on items such as toilet paper, bottled water, batteries, torches, wine and beer.

GNS Science seismologist Stephen Bannister said more than 230 earthquakes, centred over the overlapping Australian plate, had occurred since Friday.

Several aftershocks were to be expected for several days, and it was not possible to determine whether it was a prelude to the "big one", he said.

The Marlborough Express