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Christchurch hit by 2 major earthquakes

By David Barber

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Nineteen people were injured when two major earthquakes and a swarm of aftershocks hit New Zealand’s second-largest city, Christchurch, on Friday, news reports said.

Most of the injuries suffered in a magnitude-5.8 tremor followed by a magnitude-6, were minor, an ambulance official told Radio New Zealand.

Police said a number of buildings in the central city, where 181 people died in a mangnitude-6.3 quake in February, had collapsed and holes had appeared in some roads.

Most of the city center, where 900 buildings were damaged too badly to be re-occupied in February’s quake, was evacuated, including shopping malls.

The city’s airport was closed and 40 international and domestic flights diverted while the runways were checked.

At least 26,000 homes were reported to be without power and reports said there was extensive flooding from liquefaction as the ground turned to slimy mud in several suburbs.

Police urged people to stay off the roads if they did not need to travel and warned people to stay away from cliffs and hillsides in the suburbs because of rock falls.

Police assured residents there was no danger of a tsunami.

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