VIDEOS, PHOTOS: A deadly 6.3-magnitude tremblor struck Christchurch, NZ at 12:51 pm Tuesday, February 22, 2011.
Buildings collapsed killing at least 65 and trapping many others beneath the rubble. Residents fear more aftershocks, and with people still missing, this may mean a higher death toll.
A number of witnesses are saying the city of Christchurch as they knew it is gone. “This may be New Zealand’s darkest day,” said New Zealand Prime Minister John Key.
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The United States Geological Survey reported a series of strong aftershocks followed, including a 5.6-magnitude aftershock shortly after the initial 6.3 New Zealand earthquake, and another 5.5-magnitude aftershock shortly before 3:00pm. Today’s major Christchurch earthquake comes after a 7.1 quake hit New Zealand on September 4, 2010. Residents were still rebuilding when the February 22nd earthquake hit.
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NZ Primeminister called an emergency cabinet meeting to discuss matters. Urban search and rescue teams were called in from other parts of the country to help. Christchurch Hospital suffered minimal damage and was open.
According to CNN News, “The quake toppled the 147-year-old Christchurch Cathedral spire and ripped facades from buildings. It sent survivors fleeing to a nearby park to avoid falling debris. It also forced the closing of the city’s Christchurch Airport.”
The Police Station and cathedrals have been damaged. Several major hotels in Christchurch have collapsed. Parts of central Christchurch have been evacuated, and the Lyttleton Tunnel had been closed as well. A crane was brought in to rescue a number of workers that were trapped on the 17th floor of the Forsyth Barr office building due to a stairwell that had collapsed. Watch a live video to the left to see the rescue unfold.
Power lines were down in many parts of the area. Water mains had broken flooding a number of streets. Phone lines remained open but seriously overloaded due to the level of anxious people concerned for their loved ones. New Zealand Minister John Carter urged people to text rather than use cell phones to call so as not to further overload the lines.
Sources: CNN News; Voice of America; BBC News
Photo: CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND – FEBRUARY 22: Rescuers search for survivors in a collapsed building in Manchester Street on February 22, 2011 in Christchurch, New Zealand. The 6.3 magnitude earthquake – an aftershock of the 7.1 magnitude quake on September 4 – struck 20km southeast of Christchurch at around 1pm local time, with initial reports suggesting damage and fatalities far exceeding the initial quake. (Photo by Martin Hunter/Getty Images)