New Zealand Quake Topples Buildings

A magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck New Zealand early Saturday, toppling several buildings and damaging homes, but sparing lives as authorities reported only two seriously injured victims.

The quake occurred in the city of Christchurch around 4:35am local time, with the state geological agency GNS Science recording some 29 after shocks in the hours that followed. Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said several buildings collapsed while others have been badly damaged that they may also be toppled if the aftershocks continue. Despite the heavy infrastructure damage caused by the quake, local officials said no one has been reported dead, although several people were reportedly trapped inside collapsed buildings.

Prime Minister John Key immediately visited Christchurch to assess the damage and said that it was “an absolute miracle” that no one had died in the city of 400,000. Authorities said around $1.4 billion might be needed to repair the damage caused by the powerful quake.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.