Fear returns for Christchurch after 5.7 magnitude earthquake

By Sarah Harvey

Rocks falling into the sea at Taylor's Mistake, Christchurch. PHOTO: Twitter/@twieberneit
Rocks falling into the sea at Taylor's Mistake, Christchurch. PHOTO: Twitter/@twieberneit

Canterbury residents are on edge again after being rattled by a large earthquake just days out from the anniversary of the devastating February 2011 event.

The magnitude 5.7 quake violently shook the region at 1.13pm Sunday. The quake was centred 15km east of the city in Pegasus Bay and at a shallow depth of 15km.

No one was seriously injured and there was no serious damage reported to buildings in Christchurch city or surrounds. There was, however, large plumes of dust visible at Sumner where rocks, some reported to be as big as cars, fell into the sea meaning a narrow escape for some surfers and surf lifeguards.

Christchurch’s northeastern suburbs also suffered from liquefaction – silt bubbling up through the ground like it had in the earthquake in 2011 which claimed 185 lives.

Christchurch continued to rattle overnight with Geonet recording more than 25 aftershocks above magnitude 2.0 in 12 hours.

Yesterday’s quake is thought to be another ‘aftershock’ in the series of quakes since the first in Canterbury in September 2010. It is the largest quake to have hit the city in many years, the last was on May 25, 2012 when a magnitude 5.2 struck 20km east of the city.

The city largely stood up to the quake with just three schools closed for further safety checks on Monday morning and most roads and buildings undamaged.

Council officials have closed the city’s Summit Rd between Rapaki gate and Mt Cavendish. The Bridle Path and Rapaki tracks are also closed – both areas are close due to rockfall in the area.

Geonet has updated it’s modelling for the city saying there is now a 63 per cent probability of one or more earthquakes of magnitude 5.0 to 5.9 occurring in the region during the coming year.

Prime Minister John Key said it was a “powerful and painful blow” to residents, but the city had held up well.

“On the other side of the coin, they can take great comfort from the fact that the buildings, from what we can see, came through well. The reconstruction has been done at a high level. They arguably are in the safest city in New Zealand from that regard,” he told Radio New Zealand.

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