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Jacinda Ardern stays calm as earthquake rattles New Zealand during press conference

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A magnitude 5.9 earthquake struck New Zealand on Thursday, sending shockwaves that were felt across the country - including by Jacinda Ardern, who was in the middle of a press conference.

The prime minister, who was speaking about the country’s new traffic light Covid framework in Wellington, was being asked a question by a reporter when the earthquake hit just before 11am.

Keeping her cool, she waited for the tremors to subside before turning back to the reporter and asking for the question to be repeated because of the “slight distraction”.

The earthquake, which hit 30km southwest of Taumarunui, was felt by thousands of people in both North Island and South Island.

There were no initial reports of any damage or injuries caused by the earthquake, but significant damage is unlikely as it struck at a depth of 223km.

Ardern later told reporters that Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson, who was also on the stage, was not entirely convinced it was an earthquake and wondered if it was just strong wind blowing.

New Zealand often experiences earthquakes as it lies on the seismically active “Ring of Fire”, a 40,000km arc of volcanoes and ocean trenches in the Pacific Ocean.

A 6.3 magnitude earthquake which hit the city of Christchurch in 2011 killed 185 people, while in 2016 a 7.8 magnitude earthquake killed two and caused billions of dollars in damage.

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