Powerful earthquake struck New Zealand during Prince Harry and pregnant Meghan Markle's visit
On Tuesday afternoon a 6.2-magnitude earthquake hit near Taumarunui, New Zealand. The center of the quake was about 173 miles south of Auckland.
That is where Prince Harry and the pregnant Duchess Meghan are visiting. According to reports, more than 15,000 people felt it.
Deputy speaker Anne Tolley suspended parliament after the earthquake. She said:
“I never thought I'd have to do that, suspend the House until we find out what's happened. There were public in the galleries and people need to just make sure their staff are OK. I mean we're in the safest building probably in the country - but just to make sure and get some advice.”
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern advised that people check on those around them. MP Deborah Russell said the quake “seemed to go on forever.”
While Louise Upton said it was the “longest one I've felt” in the chamber. A spokesman for Wellington Fire and Emergency said there had been no reports of injuries or serious damage.
Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan were said to be unaffected by the quake. The tremor was said to be one of the largest felt in the country since a 7.8 magnitude quake struck near Kaikoura in the South Island in November 2016.
In that earthquake, two people died. Civil Defence Minister Kris Faafoi warned people to be prepared for aftershocks from the earthquake that had a depth of 142 miles.
People reported feeling the quake in Christchurch on the South Island, 497 miles away. The tremors forced at least two planes to abort their scheduled landings in Wellington.
Ken Wheeler, a manager of a hardware store at Taumarunui which is 19 miles northeast of the epicenter said:
"It was just a little wobble, it's not much. We've got quite a gift section here, with crystal glasses, and it did nothing."
Hawke's Bay Civil Defense advised people affected by the tremors to “drop and hold on tight.” On the same day, Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan started their day in Redvale, on Auckland’s North Shore.
There they dedicated a 20-hectare area of native bush to the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy. The canopy conserves indigenous forests for future generations.
Later on, the Royal couple was joined by local schoolchildren in planting trees at the site. Meghan planted a Kōwhai tree, which also happens to be the flower that was one of 53 on the veil of her wedding dress.
The pair then led their own team of students in a “welly-wanging” contest. The game sees competitors throwing a Wellington boot as far as they can.
The Duchess’ team won against her husband’s in the contest. According to the New Zealand Civil Defense, there was no tsunami threat to the country after the earthquake.
The tremor was said to have been likely caused by bending tectonic plates. Victoria University Professor John Townend said he believed the earthquake was caused by the contorting of the Pacific plate as it ground against the Australian plate.
Despite the earthquake scare, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were seen performing their Royal duties at about 3.20 p.m. The pair arrived at Courtenay Creative, in Wellington, hand-in-hand were they were greeted by actors in medieval costume.
They were at a location halfway between Wellington and Auckland. Their next visit was to Pillars, which is “a charity for children of prisoners” that operates across New Zealand.
New Zealand Prime Minister Ardern joined them for the occasion. The Royal couple also visited central Auckland for a meet-and-greet with local residents before attending a reception at the Auckland War Memorial Museum.