Incredible video footage filmed during the New Zealand earthquake shows the night sky over Wellington lighting up with mysterious green and blue flashes as the jolts struck just after midnight.
Several Kiwis filmed the strange flashes of green, white and blue in the sky over a span of a few seconds. Results were posted on Instagram and on YouTube.
“Large earthquake hit New Zealand tonight so I started recording and during the peak of the shaking the sky began to light up with colours,” wrote Zachary Bell, who filmed the display shown above in a clip lasting just 11 seconds.
Another video, posted on Instagram shows clear, bright flashes of light.
Similar accounts of eerie and unearthly-looking lights in the sky followed the Christchurch earthquake in 2011.
The phenomenon is authentic and unexplained. Similarly creepy flickering lights have been sighted during earthquakes for thousands of years – and scientists still don’t understand the process.
According to ABC News, a paper published in science journal Seismological Research Letters hypothesised that the phenomenon is a result of positive charge generated along stress gradients that “accumulate at the surface”.
“High-density accumulations of charged atoms are thought to ionise pockets of air which form light-emitting plasma.”
Australian scientist Karl Kruszelnicki says earthquake lights are a genuine phenomenon – but there is no scientific consensus as to the cause.
Until they work it out, file it under “strange but true”!
MEANWHILE, Wellington was battered yesterday by storms, wild winds, rain and flooding as concerns mounted that an eight-storey building in the central city was on the brink of collapse, having sustained severe earthquake damage. The area around it has been cordoned off and structural engineers are checking other buildings.
A fleet of international warships visiting New Zealand for an International Naval Review in Auckland (part of celebrations for the 75th anniversary of the Royal New Zealand Navy) is heading for Kaikoura in the northeast South Island, near the centre of the earthquake. Several hundred people, including tourists, are stranded there after the quake severed road and rail links.
Australian, US, Canadian, Japanese and Singaporean ships are involved. The USS Sampson (a destroyer and the first US warship to visit New Zealand in 33 years) is off the Kaikoura coast with two MH60 helicopters to help as needed.
The Chinese Embassy has chartered helicopters to pick up Chinese tourists.
Written by Peter Needham