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Deadly quake strikes New Zealand

Posted by arnon_k On February - 22 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

(CNN) — 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.

New Zealand Police announced on the agency’s website that a large-scale evacuation of the central city was under way. According to the news release, the earthquake killed an undetermined number of people at various locations around the city, including passengers on two buses crushed by buildings that had fallen on them.

TVNZ reported that the 147-year-old Christchurch Cathedral’s spire had toppled, Christchurch Hospital was being evacuated and the airport was closed.

Laura Campbell told CNN she was at work at the bottom of a six-story building when the earthquake struck. She described seeing “windows blowing out, bricks falling down, people screaming, the whole nine yards.”

“It was bloody serious,” said Campbell, who was trying to walk home. “I’m worried about what I’m going to find down the road.”
The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake struck just before 1 p.m. Tuesday (7 p.m. Monday ET), and a 5.6-magnitude aftershock struck about 15 minutes later. The U.S.G.S. recorded a second 5.5-magnitude aftershock shortly before 3 p.m. local time.

The New Zealand Herald reported that phone lines in the area were out, including the city’s emergency 111 service, roads were cracked — in some cases lifted as much as a meter (1 yard) — and water mains had burst, flooding several streets.

Witness Philip Gregan said he was attending a joint U.S.- New Zealand conference when the earthquake struck.

“I’m seeing a lot of damage in buildings, there are glass and bricks in the road. I’ve seen one collapsed bridge and there’s a lot of water from broken water mains,” he told CNN. “I saw one (injured) person in the back of a police car and one of our colleagues saw a person crushed by falling debris, so there are definitely dead.”

New Zealand’s transit authority told TVNZ that it had been unable to reach its staff in Christchurch and at the Lyttleton Tunnel, which is near the epicenter.

Christchurch police told TVNZ that the city’s 106-year-old Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament was badly damaged, and a Herald reporter said that half the building had collapsed.

Camera footage aired by the station showed piles of stone lying atop crushed chairs on the floor of the cathedral with light shining through the collapsed tower above the sanctuary.

Witness Gavin Blowman told CNN how he ran into the street when the earthquake struck.

“It felt like I was running on jelly,” he said. “We saw a giant rock tumble to the ground from a cliff — a rock that had been there for millennia. It fell on the RSA (Returned Services Association, a veterans’ association) building — it was terrifying.”

He said there were now fears that a tsunami could hit in the wake of the quake and that he and 20 other people were trying to get to higher ground.

Flying out of the city currently was not an option in the hours immediately after the quake.

“The airport is currently closed until further notice,” an airport employee told CNN some two hours after the quake.

All planes inbound for the airport were being diverted, and no planes were allowed to take off. No one was injured at the airport, he said. The employee did not give his name and wanted to clear the phone line to continue emergency work.

The quake caused significant damage to several older buildings, a Herald reporter said.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said he would attend an emergency Cabinet meeting in Wellington and then fly to Christchurch if conditions allow.

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker told Radio New Zealand that the rumbling tossed him across the room, that he knew of injuries in the city council building and has heard unconfirmed reports of serious injuries.

“That was, in the city central anyway, as violent as the one that happened on the 4th of September,” he said.

Parker added that streets were jammed as people tried to get out of the city, and he urged people to avoid the water supply.

“We’ve been through this before this once, we now need to think what we did at that time,” he said.

Southern New Zealand has been plagued by a series of quakes since September, when the area was shaken by a 7.1-magnitude temblor that New Zealand authorities said was the most damaging quake to hit the region since 1931. The earthquake struck in the predawn hours of September 4. Authorities said the deserted streets at that time likely kept injuries to a minimum.

There were no deaths from that earthquake.

Both the Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament and the Anglican Christchurch Cathedral were undergoing repairs after being badly damaged by the September quake.

The quake struck in the “worst possible location,” Kevin Fenaughty, data center manager for GNS Science, told the Herald.

“It’s a nightmare,” he said. “A lot of people were just getting back on their feet after the original quake.”

TVNZ also reported that its newsroom in Christchurch was badly damaged.

Major earthquake strikes southwestern Pakistan

Posted by arnon_k On January - 19 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) — An earthquake with a magnitude of 7.2 struck Wednesday morning in a remote area of southwestern Pakistan, but initial reports revealed no major damage.

The earthquake occurred at 1:23 a.m. (3:23 p.m. Tuesday ET) at a depth of 84 kilometers (52 miles), the U.S. Geological Survey said. It was centered 45 kilometers (30 miles) west of Dalbandin, and 1,035 kilometers (640 miles) west-southwest of Islamabad, the USGS said on its website.

Arif Mahmood, director of the Pakistan Meteorological Department, put the epicenter at 320 kilometers (about 200 miles) southwest of Quetta near Kharan, Balochistan, and said it had been felt in Punjab, Sindh, and Balochistan provinces in Pakistan, as well as parts of Iran and India.

Mahmood predicted major aftershocks. “Earthquakes with such magnitudes in the past have brought on aftershocks,” he told CNN from Islamabad.

Residents near the epicenter in the districts of Kalat, Dalbadin and Kharan told CNN some mud-walled homes were damaged but no one was hurt.

An official at Quetta’s Civil Hospital said a female cardiac patient suffered a fatal heart attack during the earthquake. He said two residents raced to the hospital but they proved not to have been injured, just scared.
Malik Muhammad Iqbal, the police chief of Balochistan province, said he was aware of no injuries.

“Things in the headquarters started shaking and books fell off the desks,” Balochistan Police Inspector Sultan Mehmood told CNN in a telephone interview. “We left the headquarters running into the streets — scared for our lives.”

In Karachi, Faraz Leghari, director general police, said he had heard no immediate reports of casualties or building damage.

USGS initially reported the quake at 7.4. Quakes of 7.0 to 7.9 are classified as major; anything over 8.0 is classified as great.

In Dubai, about 500 miles southwest of the epicenter, a reporter said he felt a moderate shaking that lasted for about 30 seconds.

Usman Zahid, a night manager at Serina Hotel in Quetta, Pakistan, felt the quake. He said it was “frightening” and estimated that it lasted about 20 seconds. It left “broken glass in the kitchen” and made a chandelier swing, but caused no major damage, he said.

People with Twitter accounts in New Delhi, Jaipur and Dehradun — all in India — felt the quake. People with Twitter accounts in Bahrain said they felt the quake.

In Dubai, “I was just getting ready to go to bed,” said Leone Lakhani in Dubai. She said she texted her friends in Abu Dhabi and Bahrain.

“It’s not uncommon for this region to have earthquakes,” said Kurt Frankel of the Georgia Institute of Technology. It is where two tectonic plates come together, he said.

Strong earthquake strikes central Chile

Posted by arnon_k On January - 3 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

(CNN) — A 7.1-magnitude earthquake struck the central coastal area of Chile on Sunday, some 70 kilometers (45 miles) northwest of Temuco, the U.S. Geological Survey said. There were no immediate reports of major damage or injury.

The quake, which stuck around 5:20 p.m. (3:20 p.m. ET), was felt as far away as Santiago, roughly 595 km (370 miles) north of where the USGS said the quake occurred. The epicenter was more than 10 miles underground, the USGS said.

Loreto Henriquez, manager of the Holiday Inn Express in Temuco, felt the quake for about a minute, describing it as loud and strong. She said people ran into the streets, but did not report any major damage.

CNN Chile similarly reported no immediate injuries or damage.

The temblor cut some telephone and electricity lines, according to Chile’s national emergency office, which did not provide any further detail.
Roughly 91,000 people felt very strong shaking, according to USGS estimates.

Soon after the quake, a 5.0-magnitude aftershock rattled the area around 6:10 p.m. (4:10 p.m. ET), striking some 110 km (70 miles) northwest of Temuco.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said no widespread tsunami threat exists, but did not rule out the possibility of local tsunamis close to the quake’s epicenter.

In February, an 8.8-magnitude quake hit Chile near the nation’s second largest city, Concepcion, killing hundreds. Sunday’s quake struck roughly 100 miles south of Concepcion.

Quake risk ‘high’ in Plains

Posted by arnon_k On December - 25 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

Bangkok and 19 other provinces in the Central Plains are facing a high risk of an earthquake centred on the Three Pagodas fault in Kanchanaburi, an authority has warned.

A study by the Mineral Resources Department has found that a 6.9 Richter scale earthquake took place at the fault zone 2,000 years ago and that based on a cycle of earthquake activity, another one could occur.

Spokesman Adisak Surinkum said that if a 6.9 Richter scale quake struck, 147 districts in 20 provinces would be affected, with the level of damage varying depending on their distance from the centre.

“We have found that Bangkok is a city at risk,” Mr Adisak said. “The impacts are likely to be severe due to the city’s mudland geography, which can amplify the earthquake scale two or three times.”

Most buildings in Bangkok have not been designed for earthquake resistance.

The study found Suphan Buri, Kanchanaburi, Nakhon Pathom and Ratchaburi were expected to be hit worst, with building collapses, followed by Bangkok, Ang Thong, Ayutthaya, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Samut Sakhon, Samut Songkhram, Samut Prakan, Phetchaburi, Sing Buri, Lop Buri, Saraburi, Nakhon Nayok, Chachoengsao, Chon Buri and Prachin Buri.

Lertsin Raksaskulwong, chief of the Bureau of Environmental Geology and Geohazard, said the department drew up a map of earthquake risk areas in 2005. It serves as a database for the Public Works and Town & Country Planning Department’s ministerial regulation on buildings and earthquakes.

Chiang Rai, Mae Hong Son, Tak and Kanchanaburi must have earthquake-resistant buildings capable of withstanding a 6.0 to 6.9 Richter scale quake.

The buildings in some provinces in the North, such as Chiang Mai and Lampang, together with Bangkok, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Phuket, Trang, Krabi and Satun must be capable of withstanding a 5.0 to 5.9 quake.