Christchurch hit by powerful aftershocks

Christchurch was struck by two strong aftershocks this afternoon. Details of the severity and the extent of damage continue to emerge.

Image: TIMOTHY KELLEHER/@timkelleher

Still recovering from the September and February earthquakes, Christchurch was struck by two strong aftershock earthquakes this afternoon.

The first aftershock struck at 1pm. The magnitude 5.5 quake was centred at Taylor’s Mistake, a beach situated 10 kilometres east of Christchurch. A later 6.0 quake quake hit at  2.20pm and was centred 10 kilometres southeast of the city.

Early reports from news outlets indicate that serious damage has been sustained in the city.

Excerpts from The Press website:

“Following today’s second quake, Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said: “Thank God we had evacuated the red zone.”

“We are being enveloped with dust. It is very very scary,” Parker said.

“We need to get a picture of what is really happening and to make a call on where we need to send our essential services.”

Civil Defence has again set up a headquarters at the Christchurch Art Gallery where shaking was so violent those inside feared the large glass windows would burst.

Power is out to 54,000 residents.”

“…A St John spokesperson said several ambulances were operating in the city and others were on standby.

Firefighters rescued two people from St John’s Church in central Christchurch, fire communications spokeman Iain Lynn said.

Fire Service spokesman Dan Coward said there had been countless callouts to burst pipes, especially in the Sumner area where many locals were “freaked out”. He said fire crews were investigating a number of suspected fires and the smell of smoke in various sites around the city.”

“…Christchurch Airport is closed. Air New Zealand spokesperson Marie Hosking says there are no flights in and out of Christchurch at the moment… The national air traffic control centre in Christchurch has continued to operate enabling flights to continue throughout the country, Airways Corporation communications manager Nikki Hawkey says.

“Operational staff stayed on but everybody else has gone, we just can’t have people here that aren’t essential.””

“…Mayor Parker said officials were “still in the information gathering stage” but Christchurch was unlikely to be plunged back into a state of emergency.

“We were lucky it didn’t go on for longer. But something as sharp and violent as that would have damaged stone buildings.””

The situation continues to develop. The links below provide further information, pictures, video and up-to-the-minute updates on Christchurch.

The Press: Christchurch hit by two major aftershocks

New Zealand Herald: Second major 6.0 aftershock hits Christchurch

TVNZ News: Christchurch hit by two major aftershocks

TV3 News: Second aftershock strikes Christchurch