7.0 quake hits New Zealand near Christchurch
The quake, which had a depth of 20.5 miles, was felt throughout much of the South Island and parts of the North Island, but did not trigger a tsunami.
Fri, Sep 03 2010 at 2:29 PM
SHAKEN: Christchurch is New Zealand's second-largest city with a population of about 342,000 people. (Photo: ZUMA Press)
WELLINGTON — A major earthquake of 7.0 magnitude hit New Zealand, 20 miles west of Christchurch early Saturday morning, causing no immediate reports of casualties but widespread damage, authorities said.
The quake, which had a depth of 20.5 miles, was felt throughout much of the South Island and southern parts of the North Island, but did not trigger a tsunami.
Police in Christchurch, New Zealand's second-largest city with a population of about 342,000 people, said there were many reports of broken windows, items thrown off shelves, toppled chimneys, with power and water services disrupted.
Radio New Zealand reported that the quake was felt as a long rolling motion lasting up to 40 seconds. The area was continuing to feel aftershocks.
"No destructive widespread tsunami threat exists based on historical earthquake and tsunami data," the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said.
New Zealand scientists record around 14,000 earthquakes a year, of which around 20 top magnitude-5.0.
The last fatal earthquake in the geologically active country, caught between the Pacific and Indo-Australian tectonic plates, was in 1968 when an earthquake measuring 7.1-magnitude killed three people on the South Island's West Coast.
(Reporting by Gyles Beckford; Editing by Peter Graff/David Stamp)
Copyright 2010 Reuters US Online Report Top News
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