Christchurch hit by destructive earthquake again

Christchurch, the biggest city on New Zealand’s South Island has been hit by yet another destructive earthquake.   This time the 6.3-magnitutde earthquake has caused multiple fatalities and much damage to buildings and infrastructure.

Associated Press reports that live video footage showed parts of buildings collapsed into the streets, which were strewn with bricks and shattered concrete. Sidewalks and roads were cracked and split, and hundreds of dazed, screaming and crying residents wandered through the streets as sirens blared throughout the city.

Christchurch has been hit by hundreds of aftershocks since a 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck Sept. 4 last year, causing extensive damage and a handful of injuries, but no deaths.

The city is home to about 350,000 people and is considered a tourist centre and gateway to the South Island.

The US Geological Survey said the quake struck near the city at a shallow depth of just four kilometres shortly before 12:50pm (local time) with the city at its busiest.

Police said Central City was being evacuated, with multiple deaths reported at several locations, including two buses crushed by falling buildings.

So far, it is known that at least 65 people have died in the earthquake.

At least 20 roads had been damaged and some are impassable in parts of Christchurch. Much of the South Island’s rail network was closed after the earthquake hit. A 5km stretch of rail track near Kaiapoi was damaged and KiwiRail said there was less extensive track damage near Belfast and at Rolleston. None of KiwiRail’s 15 trains operating on South Island rail lines derailed when the earthquake struck. Rail lines north of Kaikoura and south of Dunedin reopened at 10.30am.

On a personal note, my son has just returned from Christchurch after being groomsman for a friend.  The groom had flown of Christchurch just one hour before the earthquake hit, and his wife was still in the city as well as several of their friends.  At the time of writing, efforts to contact them have been futile, and we are just hoping that they are all okay.

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