A state of emergency has been declared in New Zealand after a magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck the New Zealand city of Christchurch, destroying hundreds of buildings.
After the earthquake was over, there were a series of aftershocks in the city of Christchurch. Many old buildings were damaged. 2 people were injured. A curfew was imposed in the city of Christchurch following the earthquake to protect people from falling debris of old masonry buildings due to aftershocks.
Investigators have revealed that ground has moved upto 11 feet in some places and a new faultline has been discovered.
Mark Quigley, a geology professor leading a team investigating the cause of the quake, said: “One side of the earth has lurched to the right. Up to 11 feet in some places has been thrust up. The long linear fracture on the earth’s surface does things like break apart houses, break apart roads.”
More than 500 buildings have been badly damaged. Two men were seriously hurt by falling masonry but there have been no reports of deaths.
Although it was known that the quake was caused by the Pacific and Australian techtonic plates colliding, the existence of the “blind” faultline had come as a surprise, Dr Quigley said.
Christchurch is New Zealand’s second largest city. The earthquake has temporarily brought all life to a standstill as people access damage to their neighborhoods.
As night fell on scenes of devastation, fears were mounting of health risks from fractured sewage pipes and residents were warned to boil drinking water.
A fire erupted in the shattered central city and firefighters racing to tackle it were hampered by a lack of water pressure caused by burst mains.
Earlier, isolated cases of looting were reported but police quickly responded by increasing their presence around city centre shops.
Christchurch Hospital was inundated with casualties, mainly cuts and fractures, although at least two people were in a serious condition.
Search and rescue teams scoured the shattered city, and several people were pulled from the fallen structures in which they had been trapped.
Power companies were struggling to restore electricity supplies to as many people as possible before nightfall, when temperatures were expected to dip to a chilly 2C.
New Zealand sits on the seismically volatile Pacific Ring of Fire.
The country’s largest recorded earthquake since European settlement was one of 8.2 on the Richter scale, which destroyed much of Wellington in 1855.
Its most deadly was a 7.8 shock at Napier in 1931 when 256 people died.