Another big quake in strait

A "severe" quake this morning in Cook Strait caused damage and was felt as far away as Auckland.

It also increased the probability of further severe aftershocks, GeoNet seismologist John Ristau said.

The 5.4-magnitude quake struck at 1.07am today, just over a week since a 6.5 magnitude Cook Strait earthquake which caused damage around Wellington.

Today's quake was 12 kilometres deep and 20km east of Seddon in Cook Strait. It was followed by a swarm of smaller quakes.

More than 1500 people, mainly in the upper South Island and lower North Island, reported feeling the quake.

At least one person reported that it caused damage.

"I certainly wouldn't be surprised if this earthquake knocked items off shelves," Ristau said.

It was also felt in Auckland, Hamilton, and Tauranga.

At midday yesterday, GeoNet had downgraded the chance of a 5-5.9 aftershock within 24 hours to 11 per cent. Ristau said that when GeoNet reworked its figures, it would increase the likelihood of a 5-5.9 aftershock.

Meanwhile, another heritage-listed central Wellington landmark has been closed in the wake of the big earthquake on July 21.

Parishioners who turned up for Sunday mass at St Mary of the Angels in Boulcott St yesterday were ushered into the church hall and told the 91-year-old building had been closed for up to 18 months for earthquake strengthening work.

It follows the forced evacuation of the Old Public Trust building in Lambton Quay, which sustained serious damage in the 6.5 magnitude earthquake.

The category 1 heritage-listed St Mary's, which had already been yellow-stickered as requiring strengthening work, came through the quake unscathed, but parish priest Father Barry Scannell said the safety of parishioners was paramount.

The Nelson Mail