An earthquake of magnitude 5 hit the Canterbury in south New Zealand causing panic attacks among the residents. This is just one of the hundreds of aftershocks the town has experienced following a major quake on September 4th which had measured 7.1 on the Richter scale and had left thousands of homes uninhabitable. The latest aftershock was one of the strongest yet and had caused an interrupt in phone and power lines for a short period immediately following the quake. The epicenter was just 10 km southwest of the city of Christchurch and just 9 km below the surface. Seismologist Bill Fry told New Zealand's National Radio that the quake felt stronger than it actually was because of the shallow epicenter. They predict that Canterbury could still be experiencing aftershocks a year from now.
The ambulance and police responded to several panic calls but there were no quake related injuries reported. The Riccarton Mall was evacuated following partial roof collapse. Lyttelton Tunnel was closed after the quake disrupted the power and ventilation inside the tunnel. The Christchurch International Airport was briefly closed as engineers checked the runways for cracks. The airport has resumed operations an hour after the quake. The magnitude of the aftershock has left the residents panicky as reports of cars ‘dancing around the road’ and articles crashing down from the shelves poured in. There were several more minor quakes preceding and following this one.
The September quake and numerous aftershocks have left the heritage building of Manchester Courts ready for demolition. Though the heritage supporters are advocating waiting, the demolition of this 100 year old structure has already begun. Several of the owners of damaged land and houses are waiting for the government to contact them with the geotechnical engineering report to start rebuilding their houses. Some of the worst hit lands are estimated to take as much as 2 years to repair.