A powerful series of earthquakes struck Christchurch, New Zealand, today, swaying buildings and knocking out electricity and other essential utilities, further traumatizing the populace of a city already devastated by a catastrophic series of earthquakes over the past year.
A 5.8 temblor struck during the lunch hour, close to the same time a terrifying 6.3 quake hit in February, which caused billions of dollars in damages to the city and claimed almost two hundred lives. The February quake destroyed Christchurch's famed cathedral and leveled the entire business district. Today's earthquake hit as Christmas shoppers and workers filled the city center for lunch, sending panicked citizens out into the streets, fearing buildings and homes would collapse.
Roads and pavement cracked open and sand geysers gushed up from the porous ground on which most of the city lies. A Qantas flight bound for Christchurch from Australia was diverted and other airlines sent planes to nearby Wellington and Auckland airports for safety reasons.
A second 5.8 quake hit approximately an hour after the first. Since February's quake, the city has seen a mass Exodus of citizens, with thousands of people abandoning their beyond-repair homes and moving to other areas of the country to start their lives anew.