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New Zealand quake triggers collapses

Experts in New Zealand were this week assessing damage to buildings and infrastructure following a serious earthquake close to Christchurch, the country’s second largest city.

The powerful 6.3 magnitude quake struck around 10km from Christchurch during the Tuesday lunchtime rush hour, killing at least 65 people and causing widespread damage.

The quake is believed to be an aftershock from a 7.1 magnitude earthquake which struck last September. It triggered the collapse of high-rise buildings, tore up roads pavements and showered rubble onto the streets.

A state of emergency has been declared in the city with debris and buildings trapping an unknown number of people.

The quake caused water mains to burst and the spire of the cathedral in the centre of the city had collapsed.

“The tremor has been classified as an aftershock and although it was not as strong as the quake last September, there have been reports of serious injuries,” said a British High Commission spokesman in Wellington.

“Its centre was about 10km outside Christchurch and 5km deep.”

Readers' comments (1)

  • We focus too much on the Richter Scale in comparing earthquakes magnitude - i.e. energy.

    "Intensity" is the real measure and that is determined by, location of the quake, soil type and depth. The Pine Gould Building (central core and peripheral column slab) actually tilted due to differential settlement for liquefaction - clearly not designed to take its own weight on its side.

    The word 'after shock' places an expectation that we are going to have a few minor shakes of lower magnitude after the main quake - does not mean they wont cause a disaster.

    Furthe rmore earthquakes could happen anywhere. We dont know everything about this thin crust of rock we live on that is rotating around a liquid core.

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