Saturday 19 January 2019

New Zealand hit by fresh quakes

A series of strong earthquakes shook the quake-weary New Zealand city of Christchurch, briefly trapping two people inside a church.

The quakes forced people to flee in panic from buildings. There were no initial reports of injuries.

Christchurch has been shaken by thousands of aftershocks since a 6.3-magnitude quake killed 181 people in February.

A series of tremors were felt, the largest of which the US Geological Survey recorded at magnitude 6.0.

One of the tremors trapped two people inside St John's Church, which mostly collapsed in the February quake. Police said they had since been rescued. Another building nearby was brought down, but no one was inside.

People attending inquest hearings for victims of the February 22 earthquake reportedly bolted from the Riccarton Park Function Centre when the quakes struck. Others fled from buildings at Canterbury University and the Westfield Riccarton Mall, which also suffered heavy damage in February.

Rocks tumbled from hills in the eastern suburbs, where the earthquake also pushed up a watery silt that is created during some quakes, a process called liquefaction.

The city's airport was closed so the runways could be inspected but there did not immediately appear to be damage, Air New Zealand spokeswoman Marie Hosking said.

Ten people have been taken to hospitals with minor injuries from falling debris, an ambulance service said.

"I acknowledge that this has been a setback for Christchurch and its people, but it does not lessen our resolve to rebuild," Prime Minister John Key told reporters.

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