New Zealand's Christchurch rocked by earthquakes

13:18, 23 December 2011
World
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Dozens of people suffered...

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

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.

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.

Liquefaction is the weakening of the soil due to the rising of silt and water caused by an earthquake.

The phenomenon has also caused flooding in the suburb of Parklands.

A total of 181 people were killed when the last earthquake struck in February. It caused up to NZ$20bn ($15.5bn, £9.9bn) in economic losses.

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