A series of earthquakes has shaken the New Zealand city of Christchurch, sending residents rushing from buildings and causing minor damage.

The first 5.8 quake struck at 1358 local time (0058 GMT), the US Geological Survey said. Another of similar magnitude hit 80 minutes later.

Dozens of people suffered minor injuries but only 19 were admitted to hospital.

It comes 10 months after swathes of the city were destroyed by another quake.

Friday’s first earthquake struck 26km (16 miles) north-east of the city at a depth of 4.7km. The second large event, with a magnitude estimated at 5.9, was in almost exactly the same place, the USGS said.

Aftershocks rolled on throughout the afternoon, several of them with a magnitude greater than 5, according to New Zealand’s GeoNet.

Buildings were damaged, power supplies cut and the city’s airport had to be closed temporarily.

There were rockfalls in some coastal suburbs of the city and the authorities have warned people to stay away from hillside areas.

Power supplies were severed to 26,000 residents but they have now been restored to around 13,000.

Residents have been told to boil their drinking water in case it has been contaminated by sewage.

Witnesses told local media shoppers ran from buildings as goods fell off shelves.

Some shopping centres were evacuated and several supermarkets remain closed on one of the busiest days of the year.

‘Not again’

Police are checking the city for damage and Prime Minister John Key is being updated on developments, his spokesman said.

Vehicle trapped in pothole caused by liquefaction Sink holes and flooding have been caused by liquefaction in some suburbs

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said events had left people shaken.

“Psychologically this is a tough one. People are outside buildings on streets weeping, I’m told.”

“You can just sense the sense of ‘not again, how much longer’,” he told the Newstalk ZB radio network.

Big potholes have appeared in the roads in the Bexley district.

A Radio New Zealand reporter, Bridget Mills, said in places the tarmac felt “like jelly”, and there was fresh flooding caused by liquefaction.

Source: BBC News

Swarm of quakes hits Christchurch

LATEST: A swarm of quakes – including a magnitude 6 and three at or above magnitude 5 – have hit Christchurch, toppling already damaged buildings, injuring 60 residents and disrupting power, phone services and retailers.

The first quake – magnitude 5.8 quake, 8km deep and centred 20km north east of Lyttelton – struck at 1.58pm, GeoNet said. It was followed by a magnitude 5.3 quake at 2.06pm, a magnitude 6 quake – the largest – at 3.18pm and a 5.0, just 10 km deep, at 4.50pm.

The quakes were felt as far south as Queenstown and as far north as Lower Hutt, according to GeoNet. People in Greymouth, Ashburton, Dunedin, Hanmer Springs and Oamaru also felt them.

Orion chief executive Rob Jamieson said power had been restored to rural areas, including Springston and Dallington by 6pm. In New Brighton only about 5000 people were still without power, though the network remained fragile, particularly in the New Brighton area.

Source: The Press Read more

Air NZ plane landed as Christchurch earthquake hit

Christchurch airport is closed today following a huge earthquake in New Zealand's South Island.

An Air New Zealand plane touched down in Christchurch Airport at the exact moment the magnitude 6.3 earthquake hit.

One passenger on the plane, Robbyn Story of Raglan, spoke to Fletch & Vaughan on The Edge Radio Station in New Zealand, and described what it was like as the plane landed into the earthquake.

“It was creepy as… as the plane came down, you could see all the windows in the terminal just rolling, and all the shuttles that go out to the plane were in the tarmac just rolling.

“Somebody shouted out ‘oh my god, it’s an earthquake!'”

“We came down and couldn’t get out, and there was a big shake while we were still in the plane. Then we sat there for an hour.

New Zealand Labour Party opposition leader Phil Goff, evacuated from Christchurch Airport, said on Twitter, “Paintings falling down, plaster coming off of the walls, roof tiles falling down – scary stuff!”

Source: Australian Business Traveller Read more