Sat, September 04, 2010
World > Europe

Powerful 7.1 quake hits New Zealand's South Island

2010-09-04 08:13:51 GMT2010-09-04 16:13:51 (Beijing Time)  SINA.com

People stand outside a building damaged by a 7.4-magnitude earthquake in central Christchurch, New Zealand, early Saturday, Sept. 4, 2010. A powerful 7.4-magnitude earthquake struck much of New Zealand's South Island early Saturday. No tsunami alert was issued and there were no reports of injuries, but looters broke into some damaged shops in Christchurch, police said.« Read less (AP Photo/NZPA, David Alexander)

A police officer is seen on a street blocked by rubble from a damaged building following a 7.4-magnitude earthquake in central Christchurch, New Zealand, early Saturday, Sept. 4, 2010. A powerful 7.4-magnitude earthquake struck much of New Zealand's South Island early Saturday. No tsunami alert was issued and there were no reports of injuries, but looters broke into some damaged shops in Christchurch, police said.« Read less (AP Photo/NZPA, David Alexander)

In this image from video a car lies under fallen rubble in Christchurch, New Zealand after a powerful 7.4-magnitude earthquake struck much of New Zealand's South Island early Saturday Sept 4 2010. No tsunami alert was issued and there were no reports of injuries, but looters broke into some damaged shops in Christchurch, police said. The quake, which hit 19 miles (30 kilometers) west of the southern city of Christchurch, shook a wide area.« Read less (AP Photo/ TVNZ)

A council worker surveys the damage to a building in central Christchurch after a 7.1-magnitude earthquake hit the city September 4, 2010. Authorities declared a state of emergency after the earthquake hit New Zealand's second biggest city early on Saturday, bringing down power lines, ripping up roads and wrecking building facades, but authorities reported no deaths.(REUTERS/Simon Baker)

Bricks and other rubble are scattered outside stores in central Christchurch, New Zealand, Saturday, Sept. 4, 2010. A powerful 7.1-magnitude earthquake damaged buildings, cut power and knocked fleeing residents off their feet on New Zealand's South Island early Saturday, but there were so far no deaths and only two injuries reported.« Read less (AP Photo/NZPA, David Wethey)

A car damaged by rubble from a building is seen following a 7.4-magnitude earthquake in central Christchurch, New Zealand, early Saturday, Sept. 4, 2010. A powerful 7.4-magnitude earthquake struck much of New Zealand's South Island early Saturday. No tsunami alert was issued and there were no reports of injuries, but looters broke into some damaged shops in Christchurch, police said.« Read less (AP Photo/NZPA, David Alexander)

A powerful 7.1 magnitude earthquake damaged buildings, cut power and knocked fleeing residents off their feet on New Zealand's South Island early Saturday, but there were so far no deaths and only two injuries reported.

Panicked residents in their pajamas ran into the streets of the southern city of Christchurch after the pre-dawn quake, residents said. There were reports of some people trapped in damaged buildings — though none appeared to be crushed by rubble — and a few looters broke into some of the damaged shops in the city of 400,000, authorities said.

A state of emergency was declared and army troops were on standby to assist after the quake, which hit 19 miles (30 kilometers) west of Christchurch, according to the state geological agency GNS Science. No tsunami alert was issued.

Roads had been blocked by rubble, power and traffic lights were out, and gas and water supplies disrupted, while chimneys and walls had fallen from older buildings, Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said. He warned that continuing aftershocks could cause masonry to fall from damaged buildings.

Suburban dweller Mark O'Connell said his house was full of smashed glass, food tossed from shelves, with sets of drawers, TVs and computers tipped over.

"We were thrown from wall to wall as we tried to escape down the stairs to get to safety," he told The Associated Press.

GNS Science initially reported the quake as magnitude 7.4, but later downgraded it after re-examining quake records. The U.S. Geological Survey, in America, measured the quake at 7.0.

Minister of Civil Defense John Carter stressed the low number of casualties.

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