(eTN) – One of the biggest earthquakes in recorded history has struck Christchurch and the South Island this morning.
The massive 7.4 magnitude earthquake hit before dawn, causing widespread damage and cutting power.
The quake was centred 30 km west of Christchurch and 33 m underground. It hit at 4:35 am, and there have been many reports of damage.
It was felt widely across the South Island, including Christchurch and Timaru, and there have also been reports of the quake being felt as far as Wellington. Several aftershocks have been felt.
The rail network in the South Island has been shut down while it is inspected for damage.
Civil Defense is considering activating its emergency management national crisis center.
Christchurch police report widespread power outages throughout the city.
There have also been reports of the quake being felt as far as Wellington.
They also report partial blockage in Litchfield St. because of damage.
There are cars damaged in Madras St., and bridges in Brighton and South Brighton are also damaged; inspector Malcolm Johnston said power is out around the city and widespread building damage is being reported.
Malcolm is telling people to remain calm, as it will be soon [that] police will be able assess the damage.
Christchurch resident Colleen Simpson said everyone was out in the street in their pajamas looking scared and worried. There was no power and the mobile network was failing.
“Oh my God. There is a row of shops completely demolished right in front of me,” she said.
Simpson and her young family were heading to her sister’s house, where there was still power, so everyone could be together.
Kevin O’Hanlon, from Mairehau in Christchurch, said it was unbelievable.
“Just unbelievable. I was awake to go to work and then just heard this massive noise and, boom, it was like the house got hit. It just started shaking. I’ve never felt anything like it.”
Christchurch Press chief reporter Kamala Hayman said power was out in many southern suburbs.
“The first shake tipped books and glasses off our shelves, and we are still getting sizeable aftershocks.”
Ryan Shaw, in Christchurch, said “TV fallen off cabinet, books, pot plants everywhere, and I’m very shaken.”
Some Twitter users in Christchurch were awoken by the earthquake and tweeted about it:
@mojomathers: OMG! That was a freakin big earthquake. Stuff broken. Ongoin aftershocks. Hope everyone ok.
@the4avenues: CRAZY earthquake in #Christchurch this morning! That got me out of bed faster than any alarm-clock.
@julierodenberg: 7.4 magnitude earthquake in Christchurch. It shook the water out of the toilet bowl. Crazy!
ZachNews: RT @DavidClinchNews: Witness to earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand tells local paper “There is a row of shops completely demolished.
jcorsey: RT @joshlevscnn: Have any pics/vids from New Zealand earthquake? Send (but don’t go to any danger – stay safe) – here and iReport.com.
iamtheendtimes: RT @Reuters: FLASH: New Zealand hit by 7.3 magnitude earthquake: USGS – d0om.
ReadyOC: Be prepared when the big one hits SoCal. Visit ReadyOC.org. RT @nprnews: New Zealand Hit By Magnitude 7.2 Earthquake.
Monkeyskunk: BBC article on the New Zealand earthquake: BBC News – Strong earthquake rocks New Zealand’s South Island – bbc.co.uk.
SpeakeasyCoffee: RT via @coffeegeek Thoughts w/ @carlSara @TeAroRoasted and all my New Zealand friends with the 7.4 Earthquake outside of Christchurch.
cristianfh: RT @NewEarthquake: Revised (7.2 -> 7.0): 7.0 earthquake, south Island of New Zealand. Sep 4 4:35am at epicenter (1h:23m ago, 30km NW.
avri: hoping all the people I know in New Zealand are doing well after the earthquake! Well the ones I don’t know as well.
irobyn: RT @bbcworld: Earthquake hits south New Zealand: BBC News – Strong earthquake rocks New Zealand’s South Island – bbc.co.uk.
Charliemaniac: … LATEST: New Zealand earthquake reminds the world that New Zealand exists.
sahnetaeter: RT @tenbus_uk: Anyone in or near #Wanaka in New Zealand? My brother is there and I was wondering how strong the earthquake was?