. Earth Science News .

Christmas Eve aftershock rattles tense N. Zealanders
by Staff Writers
Wellington (AFP) Dec 24, 2011

5.5-magnitude quake hits off Tonga
Wellington (AFP) Dec 23, 2011 - A 5.5-magnitude earthquake struck off the Pacific island nation of Tonga Friday, seismologists said, but the shallow tremor did not trigger any immediate tsunami alert or damage reports.

The undersea quake hit at a depth of 10 kilometres (six miles) some 1,451 kilometres south of the Tongan capital Nuku'alofa at 18:52 local time (10:52 GMT), the US Geological Survey said.

The Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center did not issue a tsunami warning or advisory.

Earthquakes are common on the Pacific "Ring of Fire", where continental plates in the Earth's crust meet.

A Christmas Eve aftershock rattled New Zealand's South Island after two earthquakes sent terrified people fleeing into the streets, 10 months on from a devastating quake that claimed 181 lives.

The 5.0 magnitude tremor, which was 7.6 kilometres (4.7 miles) deep, struck early Saturday 6:37 am local time, just 21 kilometres (13 miles) from the earthquake-devastated city of Christchurch.

It heralds a tense Christmas holiday for Christchurch residents after the city was rocked by a fresh series of powerful earthquakes on Friday, bringing back painful memories of the February disaster.

Two shallow quakes of magnitude 5.8 and 5.9 and a series of aftershocks struck as malls were packed with afternoon Christmas shoppers, sending stock tumbling from the shelves and turning the festive mood to panic.

The quakes, which temporarily closed the international airport and disrupted communications, were the latest in a series that began 15 months ago and have destroyed much of the inner city.

Local news media reported people fleeing in fear as the quake and a first wave of aftershocks rattled the city, leading to liquefaction and flooding in some suburbs worst hit by previous earthquakes.

Liquefaction is caused when shaking loosens the bonds between soil particles, turning the ground into a quagmire.

"You can't underestimate the ongoing stress this has created for people," Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said, while Prime Minister John Key described the impact as "frightening and disheartening" for the beleaguered residents.

The lives of people in New Zealand's second largest city have been shattered by the earthquakes that began in September last year when a 7.0 tremor struck.

That quake caused widespread destruction but because it hit just before dawn there were few casualties.

But on February 22, a lunchtime 6.3 quake killed 181 people and reduced much of the downtown area, including the city's Anglican cathedral, to rubble, while in the suburbs thousands of homes were damaged or destroyed.

The cost of repairing the city has been put at NZ$20 billion ($15.5 billion), and even after the latest quakes Key said the government's resolve to rebuild Christchurch remains unchanged.

Smaller earthquakes in the 3.0-4.0 range have become an almost daily occurrence in Christchurch but only a few thousand from a population of more than 350,000 people are reported to have left the city.

Deputy mayor Ngaire Button said the latest quakes coming at the end of a difficult year, were likely to prompt more people to consider leaving the city but she doubted many would go.

"Every aftershock we've had, there have been people who have felt that way, we can't blame them for that," she said.

One woman, Susan Holmes, told TV3 she was "sick" of the repeated tremors and threats to her home.

"It's beyond devastating, It's happened again. I'm sick of it," a sobbing Holmes said as she faced the prospect of clearing debris from her home for the fourth time in 16 months.

The US Geological Survey said a 5.8-magnitude quake struck at 1:58 pm (0058 GMT) Friday at a depth of less than five kilometres (three miles). It was followed 70 minutes later by a 5.9 tremor at about the same depth.

One person was rushed to hospital after being injured in a shopping mall and the National Crisis Management Centre was activated.

Civil Defence controller David Coetzee said the toll could have been much higher had the central business district not been cordoned off after earlier quakes.

Telephone services were cut in many areas and electricity supplies disrupted, but police said there were no reports of other injuries or widespread damage.

The international airport and shopping malls were all evacuated and closed as a precautionary measure.

New Zealand sits on the so-called "Ring of Fire" the boundary of the Australian and Pacific tectonic plates, and experiences up to 15,000 tremors a year.

Related Links
Bringing Order To A World Of Disasters
When the Earth Quakes
A world of storm and tempest

Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
Buy Advertising Editorial Enquiries

Moderate earthquake hits southern Pakistan
Quetta, Pakistan (AFP) Dec 23, 2011 - A moderate 5.0-magnitude earthquake jolted southern Pakistan on Friday but there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties, officials said.

The epicentre of the quake was 70 kilometres (43 miles) southeast of Sibi, a major city in southern Baluchistan province which borders Iran and Afghanistan.

"Tremors were felt at 5:02 pm local time in Sibi and Quetta cities in the Baluchistan province," meteorologist Arif Mehmood told AFP.

"The earthquake struck at the depth of 10 kilometres," he addded.

Pakistan was hit by a 7.6-magnitude earthquake on October 8, 2005 that killed more than 73,000 people and left about 3.5 million homeless, mainly in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir and parts of northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.


. Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Powerful quakes send terrified N. Zealanders fleeing
Wellington (AFP) Dec 23, 2011
New Zealand's Christchurch was Friday rocked by a fresh series of powerful earthquakes, sending terrified people fleeing into the streets 10 months after a devastating quake claimed 181 lives. Two shallow quakes of magnitude 5.8 and 5.9 and a series of aftershocks struck as the town centre was packed with afternoon Christmas shoppers, sending stock tumbling from the shelves and turning the f ... read more

More help arrives for Philippine flood victims

Room at the inn for Fukushima believers

Fukushima reactors may take 40 years to dismantle

UN calls for Philippine flood aid

Canada hunts for rare earth metals as China cuts back

Landmark discovery has magnetic appeal for scientists

New Take on Impacts of Low Dose Radiation

Need a new material? New tool can help

Nitrogen from humans pollutes remote lakes for more than a century

Data-driven tools cast geographical patterns of rainfall extremes in new light

IDFC: India's water supply at risk

What are the prospects for sustaining high-quality groundwater

Season's greetings from the other extreme

Will Antarctic worms warm to changing climate

Using new technology to record Antarctic Ocean, ice temperatures

Central Asian glaciers resist warming

More Canadian farmers going high-tech

Southampton researchers help to outline world's land and water resources for food and agriculture

Chinese scientist gets 7 years for stealing US secrets

New insight into why locusts swarm

Christmas Eve aftershock rattles tense N. Zealanders

Tanzanian deluge kills 23

Indonesia girl reunited with family after 2004 tsunami

Powerful quakes send terrified N. Zealanders fleeing

Bongo party wins landslide in Gabon vote: official

Fighter jets kill 10 in south Somali air raid: witnesses

First Djibouti troops join AU Somalia force

US special forces in Central Africa for LRA rebel hunt

Human skull study causes evolutionary headache

Malaysian 'lords of the jungle' cling to ancient ways

Mind reading machines on their way: IBM

I wanna talk like you


The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2012 - Space Media Network. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement