Earthquake measuring 7.4 on the Richter scale hits Christchurch

Photo/OMGitsAllana via twitpicsBy David Barber

Wellington (dpa) – A massive 7.4 earthquake hit the New Zealand

city of Christchurch early Saturday, causing widespread damage and

cutting power and water supplies.

Many buildings were reported flattened and roads blocked by

falling debris from the quake, which was centred 30 kilometres west

of the South Island’s biggest city, at a depth of 33 kilometres.

Emergency services were flooded with calls and police urged

residents not to use mobile phones and to stay indoors as more

aftershocks were expected.

There were no immediate reports of casualties, Radio New Zealand


The quake struck at 4:35 am (1635 GMT) and the extent of the

damage was not likely to be confirmed until daybreak.

Christchurch International Airport was closed and the South Island

rail network was shut down pending inspections for damage.

The quake was felt widely across South Island and in the capital

Wellington, which lies at the southern tip of the North Island.

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported

that it had detected no tsunami in the wake of the temblor, but

warned that earthquakes of this magnitude can be destructive along

coasts near the earthquake’s epicentre.