WELLINGTON, New Zealand — A strong earthquake struck the New Zealand city of Christchurch on Friday, sending goods tumbling from shelves and prompting terrified holiday shoppers to flee as buildings shook. There was no tsunami alert issued and the city appeared to have been spared major damage.
One person was injured at a city mall and was taken to a hospital, Christchurch police said in a statement. But there were no immediate reports of serious injuries or widespread damage in the city, which is still recovering from the devastating February earthquake that killed 182 people and destroyed much of the downtown area.
The 5.8-magnitude quake struck Friday afternoon 16 miles north of Christchurch at a depth of 2.5 miles, the U.S. Geological Survey said. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center did not issue an alert.
The city’s airport was evacuated and all city malls shut down as a precaution.
Warwick Isaacs, demolitions manager for the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, said most buildings had been evacuated “as an emergency measure.” The area has recorded more than 7,000 earthquakes since a magnitude-7 quake rocked the city on Sept. 4, 2010. That quake did not cause any deaths.
Rock falls had occurred in one area and there was liquefaction — when an earthquake forces underground water up through loose soil — in several places, Isaacs told New Zealand’s National Radio.
“There has been quite a lot of stuff falling out of cupboards, off shelves in shops and that sort of thing, again,” he said.
Isaacs said his immediate concern was for demolition workers involved in tearing down buildings wrecked in previous quakes.