New Zealand issues warning after 5.5-magnitude quake rocks Alpine Fault

WELLINGTON (DPA) - A 5.5-magnitude quake rocked New Zealand's Alpine Fault early on Sunday (June 9), triggering a warning by the country's earthquake monitoring service.

The quake that hit at 3.24am local time (11.24pm on Saturday, Singapore time) was largely felt in tourist magnets Queenstown and Wanaka and surrounding areas, New Zealand Geonet said in a statement. No damage has so far been reported.

"Our duty seismologist can confirm that this quake looks to have occurred on the Alpine Fault," it added. Six aftershocks higher than a magnitude 3.0 had been recorded since. Geonet will closely monitor the situation, the statement said.

"This fault system has the potential for larger events and we would like to make sure that you are prepared for a large earthquake at all times," Geonet said.

Last year, scientists warned that New Zealand's South Island was overdue for a large earthquake that could reshape the region and cut off more than 10,000 people.

The Alpine Fault, which runs 600km along the entire spine of New Zealand's Southern Alps, has a record of rupturing every 300 years. The last big earthquake happened in 1711.

Scientists have studied evidence of the Alpine Fault's last 27 ruptures over the past 8,000 years and calculated that it ruptures at intervals of 291 years, plus or minus 23 years, producing an earthquake of about magnitude 8.1.