3 September 2010
A 7.0-magnitude earthquake has struck off New Zealand's South Island, the epicentre was 55km (35 miles) north-west of Christchurch, at a depth of 12 km (7.5 miles).
Police reported there had been damage to buildings and roads as well as power cuts, but no casualties were known. Residents of Christchurch, New Zealand's second largest city with a population of 386,000, said aftershocks were still continuing.
The earthquake struck at 0435 on Saturday local time (1635 GMT on Friday) when most people would have been asleep. Radio New Zealand reported that the quake was felt as a long rolling motion lasting up to 40 seconds, and that the area was continuing to feel aftershocks. The US Geological Survey said one aftershock had a magnitude of 5.7.
The local newspaper, The Press, said it was felt widely across the South Island, including Christchurch and the nearby port city of Timaru. Damage and power outages had been reported as far afield as Dunedin, 360km (223miles) to the south-west.
Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said the "sharp, vicious earthquake" had caused significant damage in parts of the city. Chimneys and walls had fallen from older buildings, with roads blocked, traffic lights out and power, gas and water supplies disrupted, he added.
"There is considerable damage in the central city and we've also had reports of looting, just shop windows broken and easy picking of displays," police inspector Mike Coleman told Radio New Zealand. "It's very unsafe to be out and about."
Christchurch International Airport was closed after the earthquake as a precaution, as experts checked the runways and terminal buildings, a spokesman said.
Earthquakes were also experienced in Indonesia and Hawaii shortly adter the one in New Zealand.
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