Friday, September 3, 2010

The USGS says an earthquake of magnitude 7.0 occurred in the Canterbury region of New Zealand’s South Island at Saturday 04:35:44 AM local time (Friday 16:35:44 UTC). Officials in New Zealand say the magnitude was 7.1. The earthquake occurred at a depth of 10.0 kilometers (6.21 miles). The epicenter was located 40 kilometers (25 miles) west of Christchurch; 190 kilometers (115 miles) south-southeast of Westport; 295 kilometers (185 miles) southwest of Wellington; and 320 kilometers (200 miles) north-northeast of Dunedin. New Zealand’s Civil Defence Minister John Carter has declared a state of emergency in Christchurch and Selwyn District.

Widespread damage extending beyond Christchurch has damaged infrastructure, including substantial disruption to the power and water supply. Two people were reported seriously injured, and local residents have also reported that chimneys have fallen in through roofs, ceilings cracked and brick walls collapsed. Several aftershocks were also felt as far north as New Plymouth.

Bob Parker, the mayor of Christchurch, told the New Zealand Herald that he is “thankful there has been no loss of life but there had been considerable damage across the city and outlying areas.” “We are very happy and blessed that no one died,” Prime Minister John Key said; he further pledged that “we are here to support them. We are not going to let Christchurch suffer this great tragedy on their own.”

People in the Christchurch area have been told not to enter the CBD, and a curfew has been established there from 7pm to 7am. Other towns have also had parts closed off to be inspected for safety. The NOAA’s evaluation of the situation predicts that significant damage will not progress beyond New Zealand: “Based on the earthquake magnitude, location and historic tsunami records, a damaging tsunami is not expected along the California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, and Alaska coasts. At coastal locations which have experienced strong ground shaking, local tsunamis are possible due to underwater landslides.”

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