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Update 23:52 UTC : Urban Search and Rescue teams are being flown from the North Island to help with the assessment process. One person in intensive care after being crushed by a crumbling chimney. Earlier reports of looting were exaggerated. City center closed to people not living in that area. Major damage reported in the historic town of Lyttelton.
Update 08:10 UTC : More than 80 police are being transferred from Auckland this afternoon (local time) to protectÂ Â the city at night.Â A Night curfew has been called from 7 PM to 7 AM to prevent looting and to protect people from falling stones etc.
Update 08:51 UTC : Stormy weather expected in Christchurch area tomorrow. Gales can worsen the situation of the unstable houses even more than the aftershocks do.
Update 09:25 UTC : Aftershock from 16:35 has just been updated to a higher M 5.3 value (a heavy one)
Update 10:56 UTC : At least 7 aftershocks have been hit the area.Â Prime Minister told the press that it was a MIRACLE that no more people were hurt or killed.Â Still big areas in and around Christchurch without power. Great parts of the area also without water system.
SAR (Search and Rescue) teams with especially trained dogs are underway from other parts in the country. The bigger local and National companies are starting to set up and to donate to relief funds.
Curfew area imposed from 7 PM to 7 AM : CBD block Kilmore Street., Madras Street, Montreal Street and St Asaph Street + shopping centre + Kaiapoi. A fire breaks out in a flat in the city.
Update 17:13 UTC : All press reports from the south islands are mentioning the disturbing treat of high winds on Sunday.Â New Zealand weather service warns the civil service to follow the detailed weather reports very carefully as wind gales of more than 100 km/hour can create more damage on unstable buildings and damaged roofs.
Scientists are currently examining the origin and specific details of the earthquake. The 3 quake scenario is getting more credibility. This scenario is actually stating that what was sensed as the main shock might have been 3 seperate shocks one after each other.
Update 23:02 UTC : Cellular networks did a great job during and after the earthquake. Even with the main power down, most of the networks continued working for 3 to 8 hours, vital for urgent communications. Civil Defense minister said that New Zealand was blessed that no one died.
In big contrast with the miraculous zero casualties of this massive quake, was a plane crash at the South Island glaciers where 9 people lost their lives.
As residents return to their homes or begin to assess damage, they need to be aware of a cold weather front moving across Canterbury throughout the day.
More than 250 people used the Civil defense shelters during the night.
An estimated 500 buildings have been damaged during the earthquake.
Although authorities are still examining the cost to rebuild huge parts of Canterbury, the initial number goes beyond 2 billion NZ$.
For some Christchurch residents the power outage may last several days.
Most important Earthquake Data (final numbers after multiple recalculations by scientists):
Saturday, September 04, 2010 at 04:35:46 AM at epicenter (south of Darfield)
Depth (Hypocenter) : 5 km
44 km (27 miles) W (273Â°) from Christchurch, New Zealand
200 km (124 miles) S (169Â°) from Westport, New Zealand
Links to important maps
USGS Did You Feel It Map
Google satellite map of the area showing the kind of terrain the earthquake took place
USGS Shaking map
USGS historic earthquakes map
USGS Pager map (impact on population)
* GDACS (Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System) provides near real-time alerts about natural disasters around the world. GDACS is a Joint Initiative of the United Nations and the European Commission
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