New Zealand hit by earthquake aftershock

New Zealand has been hit by a powerful aftershock, more than six weeks after a serious tremor rocked the city.

The city of Christchurch was once again at the epicentre of the quake, which cut power and telephone services, and saw residents flee into the streets.

Measuring 5.0 on the Richter Scale, the earthquake struck at 11:30 local time (22:30 GMT on Monday).

Regional civil defence official Jon Mitchell explained authorities had received reports of damage to stone and brick buildings but no reports of significant damage.

The quake had also sparked the evacuation of many businesses in the central city, he added.

No causalities have been reported.

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Christchurch

The recent quake was centred six miles (ten kilometres) south-west of the city and just five miles (nine kilometres) below the surface, New Zealand’s geological agency GNS Science said.

It was felt strongly because it was so shallow, agency seismologist Bill Fry told New Zealand’s National Radio.

More aftershocks of a similar magnitude were likely and the region could still be experiencing aftershocks in a year’s time, Fry added.

Christchurch’s international airport was closed, with 300 construction workers evacuated, and planes still in the air were put into a holding pattern until the runways could be inspected.