Christchurch rocked by earthquake

Dust and debris rising above houses after a cliff collapsed during an earthquake in the Whitewash Head area, above Scarborough Beach in the Christchurch suburb of Sumner. The mayor of Christchuch said the new quake was a big shock to the city. In 201
Dust and debris rising above houses after a cliff collapsed during an earthquake in the Whitewash Head area, above Scarborough Beach in the Christchurch suburb of Sumner. The mayor of Christchuch said the new quake was a big shock to the city. In 2011, a major quake killed nearly 200 people.PHOTO: REUTERS

WELLINGTON • Cliffs collapsed near Christchurch in New Zealand yesterday due to a strong 5.7-magnitude earthquake, but there was no major damage to the city that was devastated by a 2011 quake which killed nearly 200 people.

The epicentre of the quake on Valentine's Day on New Zealand's South Island was 15km east of Christchurch and at a shallow depth of 15km, said the country's seismological body Geonet. There were more than 40 aftershocks, it said.

The quake came eight days before the anniversary of the deadly 2011 quake that caused upwards of NZ$40 billion in damage, resulting in much of the city having to be rebuilt.

Police said there were no reports of major damage or serious injuries, but people were evacuated from several buildings. The Christchurch City Council said cliffs collapsed in several places along the surrounding coast, spreading large clouds of billowing dust across the sea and hills.

"Obviously, with a 5.7-magnitude earthquake so close to the eastern coast of Christchurch, it certainly has been a big shock for the city, a setback in terms of people's confidence and feeling of security," said Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel.

A resident of the area, Mr Stephen O'Dwyer, said he was on the beach with his wife walking their dog when the cliff in Sumner started to collapse, according to the BBC.

"The ground started to go soft. Water was coming up under the sand and people were sinking down to the ankles as the ground went soft. It shook for about 20 seconds," he told the BBC.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 15, 2016, with the headline 'Christchurch rocked by earthquake'. Print Edition | Subscribe