A powerful 7.4 earthquake has hit about 19 miles west of Christchurch, New Zealand. No tsunami alert has been issued. The quake hit on Saturday morning, September 4th (Friday in the U.S.) at 4:35 a.m. at a depth of 21 miles below ground with the center near Darfield. The town of Darfield is located about 28 miles from Christchurch. Looking down for damage in Darfield. Ongoing updates as soon as available.
There is not a lot of information about Darfield in general, or earthquake damage. It is the main town between Christchurch and West Coast, New Zealand on the Great Alpine Highway. It is a pastoral farming area and the gateway to the Waimakariri and Rakaia Rivers and the "Southern Alps." It is an area known as a great place for hot air ballooning. They have a weekly community paper, The Malvern News, which has nothing on the quake at this minute. There is a high school and "several shops." An Internet search shows several churches, and numerous restaurants.
There are reports of buildings collapsed in Christchurch and no electricity. Some sewer lines have been damaged - some road damage reported, with areas cordoned off and rubble strewn about. The airport is reportedly shutdown as it is checked for runway damage.
A resident described a "massive noise and boom." Another said the quake was "incredibly long and tortuous."
Photographer David Alexander, of suburban Opawa, told NZPA the aftershocks "just keep coming". His house still had power but street lights were out...
Christchurch man Chris Hutching said the water mains had burst in his St Albans neighbourhood and that "chimneys are down all around us".Some residents say they hardly noticed the movement, because the noise was so loud and startling. Numerous aftershocks are reported.
Update about 3p.m. CDT: Rescue teams are searching for people under rubble. Two men have been reported seriously injured - other with less serious injuries. Two suburban neighborhoods are on alert to evacuate their homes if plumbing or flooding becomes a major problem. Christchurch Hospital was forced to use emergency generators.