Christchurch, New Zealand Earthquake 2011: Latest Facts, News, Photos & Maps

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Arriving less than 6 months after a 7.0 M earthquake struck the South Island of New Zealand, a 6.3 M earthquake aftershock was registered near Christchurch, New Zealand on Monday, February 21, 2011 at 23:51:43 UTC (06:51:43 PM EST) – the country's worst natural disaster in 80 years. This earthquake involved oblique-thrust faulting at the easternmost limit of previous aftershocks, and like the mainshock itself is broadly associated with regional plate boundary deformation as the Pacific and Australia plates interact in the central South Island, New Zealand.1

Rescue workers spent a cold, rainy night searching through rubble for survivors of the powerful earthquake that has killed at least 166 people, though officials warned that the death toll was likely to rise as scores of people were still missing and feared trapped in the wreckage of several buildings that were flattened. "I think we need to prepare ourselves in this city for a death toll that could be significant," Mayor Bob Parker told reporters shortly after declaring a state of emergency and ordering the evacuation of the city center.2

The disaster struck at a shallow depth of 5 km (3.1 miles) on Tuesday lunchtime when Christchurch was at its busiest. In the aftermath of the disaster, shocked survivors wandered streets strewn with debris, including shattered glass, broken computers and desks. Roads split and cracked open as the ground beneath was liquefied by the quake. The damage is thought to be far worse than after the September 4, 2010 earthquake, which left two people seriously injured but no fatalities. The epicenter of that quake, which occurred in the middle of the night, was further away from the city and deeper underground.3

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Background Information on New Zealand

South Island of New Zealand Earthquake 2010

A 7.0 M earthquake struck off New Zealand’s South Island on Friday September 03, 2010 at 16:35:46 UTC (12:35:46 PM EDT). The epicenter was 55 km (35 miles) north-west of the city of Christchurch (population: 386,000) at a depth of 12 km (7.5) miles. Police said there had been widespread damage to buildings and roads as well as power cuts. Two men were seriously injured by falling masonry and glass.1 Almost two-thirds of the 160,000 homes in and around Christchurch were damaged by the earthquake, New Zealand's prime minister has said. The cost of repairs has been estimated at NZ$2bn ($1.44bn; £930m).2 The earthquake occurred as a result of strike-slip faulting within the crust of the Pacific plate, near the eastern foothills of the Southern Alps at the western edge of the Canterbury Plains. The September 3, 2010 earthquake occurred approximately 50 km to the southeast of a M 7.1, surface-rupturing event in Authur's Pass, on March 9, 1929, which caused damage but injured no one. More recently, two earthquakes of M 6.7 and M 5.9 occurred in June 1994 approximately 40 km to the northwest of the 2010 event, but did not cause any known fatalities or significant damage.3

Earthquake 2010 Facts

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