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Earthquake Rocks New Zealand’s North Island

While tornadoes are touching down in Australia, an earthquake has struck New Zealand:

Buildings collapsed, power lines were knocked out and gas pipes ruptured when a powerful earthquake hit the northeastern coast of New Zealand late Thursday.

Media reports in New Zealand, citing the government, listed the quake — reportedly felt as far south as the city of Christchurch — at 6.8 magnitude. The U.S. Geological Survey put it at 6.6.

There were no reports of serious injury or death from the quake near the coastal city of Gisborne. But local resident Phil Robinson, who recently moved to New Zealand from the United Kingdom, told Television New Zealand that the quake had caused serious damage to the city.

"Everything was bedlam for about 15 or 20 seconds," Robinson said. "We gather several properties in town have been damaged. It’s had a serious effect on lots of people in the city."

Robinson said communications were "patchy" and it was difficult to make telephone calls on both landlines and cell phones.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Civil Defense and Emergency Management confirmed to The Associated Press that three buildings in Gisborne had collapsed.  [CNN]

Here is an article from the New Zealand Herald which provides details about the earthquake along with pictures of the damage.  Fortunately no one was killed and hopefully everything can quickly recover. 

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