April 16, 2011

Latest: Earthquake rattles north Queensland townships

A 5.4 magnitude earthquake has shaken far north Queensland with a 5.3 magnitude aftershock hitting quake-devastated Christchurch just minutes later.
Geoscience Australia said the Queensland quake happened about 3.30pm about 180 kilometres from Townsville.
The quake was felt as far away as the Whitsundays off the central coast of Queensland and in the state's capital Brisbane, a Geoscience Australia spokesman said.
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''It's a shallow earthquake; that means it's close to the surface and potentially damaging,'' he said. ''For this type of event we would definitely expect aftershocks ... and generally they are smaller than the original event.''
Townsville councillor Natalie Marr said there had been no immediate reports of damage. But she told how her windows rattled and her young daughter leapt into her arms during the quake.
''It scared my daughter enough she jumped on the couch with me and my windows were rattling,'' Cr Marr said.
"I haven't heard of any damage at the moment.
''We usually get SMS warnings if there is more danger and to stay inside and that hasn't happened.''
Cr Marr said she had been listening to the local radio for updates and had heard people as far south as Bowen calling the station saying they felt the quake.
''It's hard to say how long it lasted, but it was probably about 10 to 20 seconds I think,'' she said.
''I heard a guy on the radio say he timed it and it lasted 40 seconds, but it's hard to tell.''
The Christchurch quake struck at 3.49pm (AEST), centred 10 kilometres north-east of Diamond Harbour at a depth of 11 kilometres.
It was felt strongly in Christchurch and also in Timaru.
Christchurch remains devastated following a magnitude 6.3 quake on February 22, which claimed an estimated 181 lives.
That quake followed a magnitude 7.1 quake on September 4 last year.
Power was cut in several areas of the city, but Roger Sutton, chief executive of power company Orion, said this was because the substations had automatically shut down when the quake hit.
He said that electricity supplies would be restored within an hour as soon as checks were carried out.
News website stuff.co.nz reported emergency services had been activated with army, police and ambulances on the streets.