New Zealand hit by Magntiude 7.5 earthquake

22 August 2003

The largest earthquake since 1929 struck New Zealand's South Island this morning, and has been reportedly felt as widely as Sydney, Australia.

At 12.12 UT (1.12 Local Time) an earthquake of magnitude 7.5 occurred just off the southwest tip of the South Island, in the Milford Sound region, 100km from Queenstown.

"I would expect this earthquake to have been felt across much of the South Island of New Zealand, and certainly in Christchurch", Geoscience Australia Seismologist Dr Mark Leonard said.

"Around half of our instruments in Australia were all sent off the scale, from Cape York to Geraldton.

"Damage could be expected 100km from the epicentre, however there have been no reports of damage.

"This is a globally significant earthquake - we would only expect two to three earthquakes of this magnitude to occur around the world each year", Dr Mark Leonard said.

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