An eagle sculpture with a 45-foot wingspan was sent sprawling to the floor at Wellington Airport in New Zealand after a 6.3-magnitude earthquake hit the country.
North Island in New Zealand is home to the famous Hobbit movies, which have been profitably doing the rounds of the world’s box offices recently. The country is, naturally, proud of these movies, and placed two massive eagle sculptures inside the main building at Wellington airport to promote the films. One crashed to the floor today, apparently hitting a teenage girl on the head as she sat in the dining area below.
While some media outlets are reporting that the girl was hit by the eagle sculpture, no injuries have been reported and there is no further mention of the teenager’s condition, so this might not actually be the case.
The second sculpture, which is being spectacularly ridden by the wizard Gandalf, is still firmly fixed to its perch on the ceiling at the airport.
The United States Geological Survey is reporting that the earthquake was centered about 38 kilometers (24 miles) northeast of the town of Masterton on North Island, New Zealand, at a depth of 27 kilometers (17 miles).
Other than the eagle sculpture, there are no reports of major damage or injuries in the area, although there was some minor damage to homes. Apparently the quake did trigger some rock slides and closed some roads in the area.
According to Radio New Zealand, train services were suspended in Wellington, but fortunately many businesses were closed due to a regional public holiday.
It was not only the promotional side of The Hobbit that was damaged by the earthquake, however. Apparently the quake sent the nation’s currency down to a lower position too. Bloomberg is reporting that the New Zealand dollar fell as much as 0.3 percent down to 82.32 U.S. cents, which is the lowest since January 10. At 5:10 p.m. in Wellington, the New Zealand dollar traded at 82.47 U.S. cents.
On the brighter side of the environment, ex-tropical cyclone June, which was said to reach New Zealand’s upper North Island today was apparently weakening. It was initially categorized as a category two but does appear to be calming down as it moves south.
MetService meteorologist Daniel Corbett told the media that June was a “smallish cyclone”, which reached category two on passing New Caledonia, but as it moves into the cooler waters off New Zealand, there will reportedly be very strong winds blowing her apart.
Both islands of New Zealand, home to 4.4 million people, are located on what is called the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, an arc of volcanic and quake activity stretching around the Pacific Rim. This causes numerous earthquakes and most are relatively mild and cause little damage, as in the latest temblor.
Wellington was struck by a previous 6.5-magnitude quake back on July 21 last year which blew out windows, dislodged goods from store shelves and had people running out of their buildings and the city center was closed temporarily.
However, a far more major quake in Christchurch back in 2011 killed 185 and completely destroyed most of the city’s downtown area.
Fortunately the worst thing to happen in New Zealand today appears to be the fact that the eagle sculpture promoting The Hobbit films has been sent sprawling to the floor by the earthquake.
By Anne Sewell