People stand outside a building damaged by a 7.4-magnitude earthquake in central Christchurch, New Zealand, early Saturday, Sept. 4, 2010. (AP Photo/NZPA, David Alexander) ** NEW ZEALAND OUT **
A powerful 7.1-magnitude earthquake hit New Zealand’s South Island early Saturday.
The quake hit at 4:35 a.m. (1635 GMT).
People ran out of their homes to the streets.
According to the state geological agency GNS Science, the quake hit 19 miles (30 kilometers) west of Christchurch.
There was no tsunami alert.
So far nobody was killed and only two people were seriously injured.
There were reports of some people trapped in damaged buildings.
The Christchurch International Airport was closed.
Chimneys and walls had fallen from older buildings, roads had been blocked, traffic lights were out and power, gas and water supplies were disrupted.
There were reports that some buildings had collapsed.
The fronts of at least five buildings in the central city of Christchurch have collapsed.
At least six bridges had been badly damaged.
Several wharves at the port had been damaged.
Kiwirail rail transport group spokesman Kevin Ramshaw said 13 mostly freight trains had been halted on South Island lines, with some damage already confirmed to rail lines north of Christchurch.
Police said that looters broke into some of the damaged shops in Christchurch.
Minister of Civil Defense John Carter said, army troops were on standby to assist as a state of civil emergency was declared.
New Zealand sits above an area of the Earth’s crust where two tectonic plates collide.