The festive mood of Christmas turns into panic when two powerful earthquakes of 5.8 and 6.0 magnitude rocked Zeeland city of Christchurch, sending terrified residents into the streets and forcing the airport to close.
The first earthquake struck at 1.58 pm (11.58am AEDT) as stores were packed with Christmas shoppers, turning their festive mood into panic as stock fell from shelves. 70 minutes later another second 5.8 quake came as inner-city streets were gridlocked by people desperate to get home.
Shopping malls of Christchurch were vacated and the international airport was shut down. Telephone services and electricity supplies were disconnected.
There was no tsunami alert issued & there were no immediate reports of structural damage.
New Zealand’s second largest city was hit by a 6.3-magnitude quake in February, killing 181 people and destroying much of the downtown area.