Tuesday, February 22, 2011

New Zealand: Christchurch rocked by deadly earthquake

A major earthquake has struck the New Zealand city of Christchurch causing extensive damage and reports of multiple fatalities

Officials say a 6.3-magnitude earthquake hit early afternoon Tuesday. Police report multiple fatalities and many damaged buildings in the city. Power and telephone lines are cut in some places.

Radio New Zealand reports that thousands of people have fled buildings and gathered in the streets of Christchurch. A church near the radio station collapsed and a bridge has been damaged.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the temblor was centered about 5 kilometers from the city at a depth of 4 kilometers.

Christchurch, New Zealand's second largest city, was hit by a 7.1- magnitude earthquake last September and a series of aftershock has rattled the city ever since.

Mayor Bob Parker told Radio New Zealand that Tuesday's tremblor felt like a whole new earthquake had struck, and not an aftershock.

The mayor advised people not to drive.

Australia's Sydney Morning Herald newspaper reported that the city's hospital had to be evacuated and that the jolt was felt in the capital Wellington to the north, and Dunedin in the south.

Published with permission of Voice of America