9-3-20107.1 Earthquake strikes southern New Zealand
Chimneys and walls crumbled to the ground, roads cracked in half and residents were knocked off their feet as a powerful magnitude-7.1 earthquake rocked New Zealand's South Island early Saturday. The prime minister said it was a miracle no one was killed.
State geological agency GNS Science reported 29 aftershocks in the 14 hours following the quake, ranging in strength from magnitude 3.7 to 5.4.
Experts said the low number of injuries reflects the country's strict building codes.
New Zealand sits above an area of the Earth's crust where two tectonic plates collide. The country records more than 14,000 earthquakes a year — but only about 150 are felt by residents. Fewer than 10 a year do any damage.
New Zealand's last major earthquake registered magnitude 7.8 and hit South Island's Fiordland region on July 16, 2009, moving the southern tip of the country 12 inches (30 centimeters) closer to Australia, seismologist Ken Gledhill said at the time.