A series of strong earthquakes struck the New Zealand city of Christchurch on Friday, rattling buildings, sending goods tumbling from shelves and prompting terrified holiday shoppers to flee into the streets. There was no tsunami alert issued and the city appeared to have been spared major damage.
One person was injured at a city mall and was taken to a hospital, and four people had to be rescued after being trapped by a rock fall, Christchurch police said in a statement. But there were no immediate reports of serious injuries or widespread damage in the city, which is still recovering from a devastating February earthquake that killed 182 people and destroyed much of the downtown area. The first 5.8-magnitude quake struck Friday afternoon, 16 miles (26 kilometers) north of Christchurch and 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) deep, the U.S. Geological Survey said. Minutes later, a 5.3-magnitude aftershock hit, and about an hour after that, the city was shaken by another 5.8-magnitude temblor. Both aftershocks were less than 3 miles (5 kilometers) deep.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center did not issue an alert. The city's airport was evacuated after the first quake and all city malls shut down as a precaution. Warwick Isaacs, demolitions manager for the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, said most buildings had been evacuated "as an emergency measure." The area has recorded more than 7,000 earthquakes since a magnitude-7 quake rocked the city on Sept. 4, 2010. That quake did not cause any deaths. Rock falls had occurred in one area and there was liquefaction – when an earthquake forces underground water up through loose soil – in several places, Isaacs told New Zealand's National Radio. "There has been quite a lot of stuff falling out of cupboards, off shelves in shops and that sort of thing, again," he said. Isaacs said his immediate concern was for demolition workers involved in tearing down buildings wrecked in previous quakes.
"It ... started slow then really got going. It was a big swaying one but not as jolting or as violent as in February," Christchurch resident Rita Langley said. "Everyone seems fairly chilled, though the traffic buildup sounds like a beehive that has just been kicked as everyone leaves (the) town (center)." The shaking was severe in the nearby port town of Lyttelton, the epicenter of the Feb. 22 quake. "We stayed inside until the shaking stopped. Then most people went out into the street outside," resident Andrew Turner said. "People are emotionally shocked by what happened this afternoon." About 15,000 homes were reported without power after electricity lines were felled in the city's eastern suburbs. Sewerage services were also cut. Hundreds of miles of sewer and fresh water lines have been repaired in the city since the February quake.UPDATE: Dozens Injured as a Magnitude 6.0 Aftershock Tremor Rocks Christchurch!
One partly demolished building and a vacant house collapsed after Friday's quakes, police said. Central City Business Association manager Paul Lonsdale said the quakes came at the worst possible time for retailers, with people rushing to finish their Christmas shopping. Despite the sizable quakes, there was no visible damage in the central business district, where 28 stores have reopened in shipping containers after their buildings were wrecked by the February quake, he said. - Huffington Post.
Dozens of people suffered minor injuries when a series of powerful earthquakes rocked Christchurch, sending terrifed Christmas shoppers fleeing. The quakes - including one of magnitude 6 and two above 5 on the Richter scale - damaged buildings, cut power, and caused mud and sewage to bubble into streets. Several buildings which were partially demolished after previous quakes collapsed completely. A spokesman for the St John ambulance service said they had received around 150 emergency calls. About 60 people were treated for minor injuries, heart attacks, panic attacks and collapses. Thousands of shoppers were evacuated from malls, where goods tumbled from shelves on what should have been one of the busiest days of the year for retailers. One woman customer said: “We saw the staff running out, so we thought if they are off, we’re going too.”
Frightened workers also ran out of office buildings across the city. The international airport was closed for checks after the main terminal “shook violently", causing havoc for hundreds of passengers. Residents in low-lying eastern suburbs were again hit hard by liquefaction, a process in which water oozes out of the ground, creating a tide of evil-smelling mud. In hillside suburbs, the biggest danger came from rockfalls as loose boulders were dislodged. Coastguard officials rescued four people who were trapped by a rockfall in Boulder Bay.WATCH: Quake-plagued New Zealand city hit by more tremors.
The energy supply company Orion was struggling to reconnect power to 26,000 properties. Large pot-holes and cracks appeared in roads, which soon became gridlocked with traffic. More than 7,000 aftershocks have rocked the city since a magnitude-7 quake struck on September 4, 2010. A shallow 6.3 quake on Feb 22 this year killed 182 people and devastated the city centre business district, where ruined buildings are still cordoned off. Many people were reduced to tears by the latest earthquakes, coming just as residents were daring to hope that the worst of the aftershocks were over. John Key, the New Zealand Prime Minister, said the quakes were “frightening and disheartening” for residents. "My heart goes out to the people of Christchurch and Canterbury at this time,” Mr Key said. "However, residents can be confident that the authorities are on to the situation, and government resources stand ready to assist wherever they are needed.” He pledged that his government’s resolve to rebuild the city remained unchanged. Bob Parker, the mayor, interrupted a Christmas break in the North Island to head back to his city. He said the shakes would take a large emotional toll on people. "Many of them are just sitting around and in tears,” he said. - Telegraph.
WATCH: Two major earthquakes hit Christchurch
WATCH: Raw video of the tremor.
WATCH: Raw video of the Liquefaction in Christchurch.
UPDATE: One in 10 Persons Set to Leave Christchurch Due to Frequency and Violence of Seismic Swarms!
Christchurch is today facing a grim future after being hit by yet another violent earthquake, its third major tremor in 15 months - with scientists predicting many more to come. Experts predict the quakes will continue to hit New Zealand's second city for the next four years as residents rapidly lose the will to stay with the cost of making good after each disaster spiralling upwards. The latest quake was registered at 5.8 magnitude, and although no lives were lost fears are growing that Christchurch could soon become a 'ghost town'.
One in 10 residents is preparing to leave the region as it becomes increasingly difficult to rebuild property and then insure it, say worried economists.
People fled into the streets and flights were diverted when today's quake, and its subsequent four aftershocks, hit with buildings swaying in the city and at the airport shortly before lunchtime. It was not immediately known if anyone had died - but one person was injured at a city mall, four people were rescued after being trapped by a rock fall and 60 were treated for minor injuries. There were no immediate reports of widespread damage and a tsunami alert was not issued. - Daily Mail.