Quake rocks New Zealand
CHRISTCHURCH – An earthquake that struck New Zealand early yesterday caused “a lot of damage”, though there were no reports of serious injuries or major damage, an emergency official said.
“It was like a freight train running through the house,” said Chris Monroe, operations manager for the New Zealand Fire Service.
The quake had a magnitude of 7.0, down from an initial assessment of 7.4, the United States Geological Survey said. It struck about four miles from Christchurch, a city of about 380 000 people.
An aftershock with a magnitude of 5.7 struck not far from the epicentre about 20 minutes later, the survey said.
Power was out to much of Christchurch “because of extensive damage there”, Radio New Zealand reported.
One person said the quake “turned his house upside down, with crockery breaking”, the station reported, citing Orion, a power company. Sewer lines and water pipes have ruptured, a company spokesman told the station.
“Structural damage to houses and broken glass have been reported throughout Christchurch,” the station said.
A man who was at the international airport in Christchurch described the scene.
“The entire terminal started shaking,” he said. “I knew it was an earthquake.There was not much you could do at that point.”
Authorities evacuated the airport, he said, adding that he saw minor damage.
“We’ve just had a terrible earthquake,” said Paula May, a Christchurch resident. “We have no power. Lots of stuff in the house is all over the floor. All the power is down, so I can’t see anything. There’s no power in the town.”
A person who answered the phone at the George Hotel in Christchurch said: “We are cleaning up at the present moment,” but wouldn’t disclose anymore detail.
Reinier Eulink, general manager of the Holiday Inn in Christchurch, said there’s damage around the hotel corridors and “big cracks in the walls”.
“It was a big, big, long jolt, and the building moved a lot,” he said. The 13-floor building, with about 150 rooms, was about 40 per cent occupied, and he estimated that 80 or more people were staying at the hotel at the time.
Power was knocked out, but emergency power came on. People were milling around in the hotel lobby, trying to get warm during the chilly Southern Hemisphere winter.
A Christchurch Hospital shift manager said there were injuries and damage from the quake.
“We are in emergency planning at the moment,” he said.
The quake was seven miles deep. It struck at 4:35 a.m. (12:35 p.m. Eastern Standard Time), the survey reported. (CNN)