Earthquakes hit New Zealand's capital

A magnitude 4.5 earthquake rocked New Zealand's capital Wellington late Tuesday, shaking items from shelves but causing no injuries or major damage, seismologists said. The quake was centered about 20 kilometers (15 miles) northeast of Wellington at a depth of 30 kilometers (22 miles) and was felt as a series of sharp jolts, according to the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences. An earlier magnitude 5 quake, centered about 150 kilometers (95 miles) north of Wellington was felt throughout New Zealand's lower North Island in the early hours of Monday morning. Seismologist Brian Ferris said Wednesday the Wellington quakes were not connected with a powerful magnitude 6.6 tremor that shook the Fiji island chain Tuesday.

"This was a small, local event," Ferris said. He said the second quake was felt over a wide area and shook items from shelves in some homes. New Zealand experiences thousands of earthquakes each year but most are too weak to be felt, reports the AP. I.L.

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