Fatality fears follow New Zealand quake near Christchurch

A large earthquake – more violent than one that struck in September last year – has struck Christchurch in New Zealand, bringing down buildings, power and phone lines.

Buildings and houses have collapsed, with fears there may be fatalities with many potentially trapped inside buildings.

Along the main streets of Christchurch, entire buildings have collapsed onto the streets amid chaotic scenes.

While the extent of damage is not yet known, the US Geological Survey has rated the event as of 6.3 magnitude.

Latest updates: Christchurch earthquake

New Zealand Herald, February 21

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New Zealand rattled by strong quake

CNN, February 21

(CNN) — A 6.3-magnitude earthquake has struck Christchurch, New Zealand, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The quake struck just before 1 p.m. Tuesday (7 p.m. Monday ET), and a 5.6 magnitude aftershock struck about 15 minutes later.

The New Zealand Herald reported that phone lines in the area were out, roads were cracked and water mains had burst.

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker told Radio New Zealand that the rumbling tossed him across the room, and that he has heard unconfirmed reports of serious injuries.

Christchurch police told TVNZ that the city’s cathedral was badly damaged.


“The quake is significantly smaller than the previous Christchurch earthquake, however it was very shallow and might have been very close to the center of the city,” Civil Defense spokesman Vince Cholewa told the New Zealand Herald.

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  • A police statement says there are reports of multiple fatalities at several locations in the central city, including two buses crushed by falling buildings.

    There are reports of widespread damage and of building collapses, including the Cathedral spire. Buildings, including the airport, the hospital and the university have been evacuated.

    The earthquake has caused power outages and broken water and sewer lines.

    Mayor Bob Parker has declared a lcoal state of emergency. He also told Radio New Zealand there have been no reports from Banks Peninsula.

    There are reports all NZ airspace is closed due to damage at the Christchurch Airport tower air control base.

    Landline and cellular phone service is intermittent. Phone users are encouraged not to overload phone lines with non-emergency calls. Text messages have been suggested.


  • New Zealand Herald, February 22

    Strong aftershocks are continuing to shake Christchurch as police confirm “multiple fatalities” after a 6.3 magnitude quake hit the city this afternoon.

    Police said fatalities had been reported at several locations and that two buses had been crushed by falling buildings.

    GNS Science said today’s 12.51pm quake was centred at Lyttelton at a depth of 5km.

    It was followed by a 5.7 magnitude aftershock at 1.04pm at a depth of 6km, 10km south of Christchurch.

    The latest aftershock measured 5.5 and was the sixth recorded since the 6.3 earthquake. It was also recorded within 5km of Lyttelton at a depth of 5km.

    Herald reporter Jarrod Booker said queues of cars could be seen being shaken up and down when the latest aftershock hit.

    Jarrod Booker said cars stuck in the city’s gridlock were being rocked side to side and occupants could be heard screaming.


    The broadcaster showed footage of people being rescued from the Pyne Guinness Gould building, where it is believed some 200 people have been trapped.

    It said the Provincial Chambers Building had also collapsed and more people were likely also trapped there.

    A listener told Newstalk ZB that the Piko Wholefoods building on Kilmore Street near the city centre, which was hit in the September 4 earthquake, was now “practically non-existent”.

    Jarrod Booker said Christchurch’s historic cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament on Barbadoes Street had half collapsed, with the remaining part of the building filled with cracks.

    The spire on the Christchurch Cathedral has also collapsed.

    N.Z. quake causes massive damage, many deaths in Christchurch

    USA Today On Deadline Blog, February 21

    Updated at 9:17 p.m. ET: Four more aftershocks have shaken the city, ranging in magnitude from 3.4 to 5.5, the New Zealand Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences reports.

    Four quakes registering magnitudes 2.5 to 3.7 jiggled the region Tuesday morning before the 6.3 shaker, the first at 3:25 a.m. and the last at 9:15 a.m., the agency says.

    Live TV Coverage: Daily Telegraph.au

    They’re reporting that the city has run out of ambulances…


    One owes respect to the living. To the dead, one owes only the truth.

  • feed from NZ TV.

    Multiple buildings collapsed with many office workers trapped.

    Multiple fatalities and scores injured in a wider circumference than first thought.

    Christchurch hospital has reopened.

  • Quake of 4.5 magnitude strikes 12 miles north-west of the capital, Wellington, as country holds day of mourning

    The Guardian, By Maev Kennedy, March 1

    A 4.5-magnitude earthquake was felt by thousands of people in New Zealand as the country held a day of mourning for the 155 confirmed victims and many more missing since last week’s quake in Christchurch.

    This time the quake, just after 10pm local time, was centred at a depth of 25 miles (40km), 12 miles north-west of Wellington, and about 180 miles north of Christchurch.

    There were no initial reports of damage, but witnesses told the New Zealand Herald the jolt shook houses and felt like the shockwave they experienced after the Christchurch quake. “My bed really rocked,” one said.

    One owes respect to the living. To the dead, one owes only the truth.

  • BBC, By Jonathan Amos, March 7

    The Magnitude 6.3 tremor killed more than 160 people and shattered a city already reeling from a previous seismic event in September.

    Data from the Japanese Alos spacecraft has been used to map the way the ground deformed during the most recent quake.

    It shows clearly that the focus of the tremor was right under the city’s south-eastern suburbs.


    In this interferogram, the peak ground motion is almost 50cm of motion towards the satellite.

    One owes respect to the living. To the dead, one owes only the truth.

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