New Zealand earthquake shakes North Island

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Media captionWellington residents described the quake, which caused an eagle sculpture, used to promote the Hobbit film, to fall down at the airport

An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.3 has rattled New Zealand's North Island, but there are no reports so far of major damage or serious injury.

The quake struck 38km (24 miles) north-east of Masterton at 15:52 local time (02:52 GMT), US Geological Survey said.

Residents described major shaking, goods tumbling off shelves and pictures knocked askew.

A sculpture of a giant eagle suspended from the roof at Wellington airport fell to the ground, local media said.

No-one was injured when the sculpture - used to promote the Hobbit movie - came down.

Many businesses were closed because of a public holiday.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Shop items were knocked off shelves during the earthquake

Shaking was felt in much of central New Zealand, including in the capital, Wellington.

Wellington rail operator Tranz Metro said that all train services were suspended as a result of the earthquake, and would be replaced by buses.

Local media said there were reports of broken chimneys and windows in rural areas close to the epicentre of the quake, which hit at a depth of 27km (17 miles).

Pictures show goods thrown from shelves and food shaken from fridges.

Masterton resident Heather Gowans told Fairfax New Zealand: "It was really shaking and rolling - it went on for about 30 seconds... Everything was swaying and the place was creaking and groaning - but luckily nothing is broken."

New Zealand is located on the boundary of two tectonic plates - the Pacific and Australian plates - and experiences around 14,000 earthquakes a year.

In 2011, a 6.3-magnitude earthquake hit the city of Christchurch, in the South Island, killing 185 people.

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