Earthquake Rattles New Zealand

Offshore quake causes damage on both islands
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 20, 2007 6:33 AM CST
Map locates epicenter of a strong earthquake which rattled New Zealand; 1c x 2 inches; 46.5 mm x 50.8 mm   (Associated Press)

(Newser) – An earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale rocked New Zealand tonight, with tremors felt on both islands. No casualties have been reported yet, writes the New Zealand Herald, but firefighters have been inundated with calls about damaged buildings and collapsed power lines. "There will be a massive cleanup in the morning," said one shocked resident.

The quake's epicenter was 31 miles off the coast of Gisborne, a city on the North Island, but shocks were felt as far south as Christchurch. In Gisborne the main street has been shut and roofs of major buildings have fallen in. Although the country lies near the so-called "ring of fire," a belt prone to frequent tremors, the last earthquake of this size in New Zealand occurred in 1987.