Friday, September 03, 2010

Massive earthquake hits Christchurch, New Zealand, at 4-30am this morning...

Massive earthquake of 7.1 on the Richter scale  hits Christchurch, New Zealand,  and environs at about 4-30 am this morning. Continuing after shocks. No deaths reported,  few serious injuries, though two middle aged men are in ICU in Christchurch Hospital.. A lot of extensive damage though in central city, suburbs and in country areas. Biggest erthquake since 1931 Napier earthquake.

Rescue teams were searching for people trapped in the rubble of a major earthquake that caused extensive damage Saturday in Christchurch, New Zealand’s second-largest city.

Basic sanitation was likely to become a major health concern because numerous sewer and water lines were damaged across the city, Civil Defense officials said. About 1,000 residents of two suburbs were put on alert to evacuate their homes as widespread damage to sewer pipes threatened major flooding.

Two men were seriously injured and scores of other people suffered less serious injuries in the aftermath of the quake, which registered 7.0 on the Richter scale. It struck at 4:35 a.m. (1:35 p.m. Friday ET), the U.S. Geological Survey said in Washington.

The timing of the quake probably saved many lives, Civil Defense authorities said, because most people were braced in their beds and not packed into the older commercial buildings that suffered the brunt of the damage.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there was no danger of a tsunami.

Mike Bowden, a spokesman for the Christchurch fire service, told The Press newspaper of Christchurch that an unknown number of people were trapped in their homes and other buildings by falling chimneys, jammed doors and blocked entrances. He said emergency services were being flooded with calls but that they could respond only to “cases of life and death” because of widespread damage to roads and bridges.

More on the New Zealand earthquake First Person: ‘We were all screaming’

Why the New Zealand quake is no Haiti

..Civil Defense officials declared a state of civil emergency shortly after 9:30 a.m. Christchurch Airport was closed, and rail service was shut down across the South Island. Several major bridges were impassable.

Christchurch authorities reported “substantial infrastructure damage” to bridges and utilities, particularly sewer and water facilities, and said many other buildings had been damaged. Mayor Bob Parker said basic sanitation was likely to become a major health concern.

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