New Zealand Earthquake 2011: Magnitude 6.3 Hits Christchurch

A 6.3-magnitude earthquake ripped through Christchurch, New Zealand, on Tuesday afternoon, causing multiple fatalities as it toppled buildings onto buses, buckled streets and damaged cathedrals, authorities said. Christchurch resident Jane Smith who works in the central city told the Herald a work colleague had just returned from helping rescue efforts after a building facade had collapsed on a bus on Colombo St.

“There’s people dead. He was pulling them out of a bus.”

“Columbo St is completely munted.”

“We can’t move at the moment because the city’s gridlocked

The quake occurred at 12:51 p.m., during a normal workday in Christchurch, according to the US Geological Survey. The epicenter was relatively shallow – just 3 miles deep – and close, about 6 miles from the country’s second largest city, where some 26,000 full-time employees work.

“The quake is significantly smaller than the previous Christchurch earthquake, however it was very shallow and might have been very close to the centre of the city,” Civil Defence spokesman Vince Cholewa told the Herald

“We are still getting a picture of what has happened…”