Christchurch Earthquakes 2011: City Hit By Series Of 'Strong' Quakes (Video)
Christchurch has been hit by a series of "strong" earthquakes, closing the airport and causing buildings and a shopping centre to be evacuated.
Local reports said 60 residents were hurt, with the earthquake disrupting power, phone services and retailers. No tsunami alert was issued but the quakes have left Christchurch residents feeling "shaken."
"Hopefully tomorrow we'll be feeling a little bit better again and restoring our faith in the will to live and to stay in Christchurch," the city's deputy mayor, Ngaire Button, told National Radio.
According to the US Geological Survey (USGS) the first 5.8-magnitude quake striking Friday afternoon, 16 miles north of Christchurch and 2.5 miles deep. Almost immediately after, a 5.3-magnitude aftershock hit.
About an hour later, Christchurch was shaken by another quake measuring 5.8, though New Zealand's geological agency GNS Science recorded that aftershock as a magnitude 6.0. Both aftershocks were less than 3 miles deep.
Christchurch airport was evacuated with buildings and shops evacuated as precaution.
About 60 people were treated for minor injuries, including fractures, injuries sustained in falls and people with "emotional difficulties," Christchurch St. John Ambulance operations manager Tony Dowell told the Associated Press.
"We have had no significant injuries reported as a result of the earthquakes today," he said.
Warwick Isaacs, demolitions manager for the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, said most buildings had been evacuated "as an emergency measure."
Isaacs told New Zealand's National Radio rock falls had occurred in one area of Christchurch, as a result of liquefaction - when an earthquake forces underground water through loose soil to the ground's surface.
"There has been quite a lot of stuff falling out of cupboards, off shelves in shops and that sort of thing, again," he said.
Isaacs said his immediate concern was for demolition workers involved in tearing down buildings wrecked in previous quakes.
"It ... started slow then really got going. It was a big swaying one but not as jolting or as violent as in February," Christchurch resident Rita Langley said. "Everyone seems fairly chilled, though the traffic buildup sounds like a beehive that has just been kicked as everyone leaves (the) town (center)."
Around 26,000 homes were left without power in the city after the shaking tripped switches, cutting electricity supplies.
Rita Norris, from Worcestershire, was in Christchurch when the earthquake struck 10 months ago and said residents would be feeling "wary and frightened".
"The terror we all experienced when the earthquake struck was something I wouldn't wish on anyone. I can quite honestly say I thought I was going to die," the 79-year-old told The Huffington Post.
"I can't imagine what the [Christchurch] residents must be feeling now. Having to endure that once was horrific - and now they are faced with the uncertainty whether they will have to go through it all again, two days before Christmas."
Central City Business Association manager Paul Lonsdale said the quakes came at the worst possible time for retailers, with people rushing to finish their Christmas shopping.
Despite the sizable quakes, there was no visible damage in the central business district, where 28 stores have reopened in shipping containers after their buildings were wrecked by the February quake, he said.