Near the anniversary of a devastating 2011 earthquake, New Zealand has suffered another.
— The Straits Times (@STcom) February 14, 2016
In Christchurch, New Zealand, Valentine’s Day was occurring and residents were going about their day as normal. It was approximately 1 p.m. when the rumbling of an earthquake began causing residents to stop what they were doing and attempt to go for cover.
According to GeoNet, the 5.7-magnitude earthquake was “severe.” The site reported that the earthquake occurred 15 kilometers east of Christchurch, New Zealand, and was relatively shallow. Originally, the earthquake was thought to have been 31 kilometers deep, but further research corrected the data. Authorities now believe that the earthquake occurred at 14 kilometers deep. There are no warnings of a tsunami, but there have been reports of aftershocks that are continuing, even now.
GeoNet is a site dedicated to operating “a modern geological hazard monitoring system in New Zealand.”
New Zealand is in dire need of such a monitoring system because it exists on the “Ring of Fire.” According to the New York Times, the Ring of Fire is “an arc of seismic faults around the Pacific Ocean where earthquakes are common.”
Five years ago, on February 22, 2011, New Zealand was hit by another severe earthquake, one that nearly destroyed the majority of the second largest city in New Zealand. The 6.3-magnitude earthquake was fatal to over 180 people and the damage caused to the structure of the town is still being repaired.
Just felt magnitude 5.7 EQ (while driving) in Christchurch where 80% of CBD is being rebuilt from 2010 & 2011 quakes pic.twitter.com/wBX7mtGNrQ
— Michael Kerwin (@mkerwin111) February 14, 2016
When the earthquake hit today, residents were brought back to that feeling of helplessness and worry, wondering if this would be another deadly force of nature.
“It was quite forceful. It just brought it all back again. I didn’t want to go through another one,” Chrissy Coulter, a woman injured in the 2011 earthquake, told New Zealand Stuff. “It just reminded me of what happened on February 22.”
“It was just that awful sound again, that rumble. It lasted a good 20 seconds, it was stuff falling of the shelves, people diving under their supermarket trolleys, and everyone just looking at each other going ‘no not again’,” Jocelyn Ritchie, Christchurch, New Zealand, City Council Media Manager told Radio New Zealand.
According to Ritchie, people in the supermarket were in tears as they tried to contact their families to find out if anyone had been hurt. Unfortunately, the lines were jammed and several cell towers were down due to the earthquake.
Despite the worry and flashbacks, however, the damages were minimal and authorities have reported only minor injuries.
Upwards of 500 people lost power after the earthquake, but authorities got to work quickly and within a couple of hours that number had dropped to only 190.
“We are working hard to quickly restore power to those still affected,” Rob Jamieson, Orion chief executive, told New Zealand Stuff.
Aside from the cell phone issues and the lost power, there were several burst water mains that affected areas of Office Road, Shirley Street, Alfred Street, Hurst Place, Hargood Street, Courtfield Close, Hills Road, Bower Avenue, and Marriots Road.
Many bridges and tunnels closed initially as authorities wanted to ensure the earthquake hadn’t caused any structural damages. At this time, all of those tunnels and bridges have been reopened. However, a cliff collapse at Taylors Mistake is causing officials to urge New Zealand locals and tourists to stay away from Sumner until they are able to establish whether or not the cliffs have returned to stability.