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
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.