CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand – The powerful earthquake that smashed buildings, cracked roads and twisted rail lines around the New Zealand city of Christchurch also ripped a new fault line in the Earth's surface, a geologist said Sunday.
At least 500 buildings, including 90 in the downtown area, have been designated as destroyed by the 7.1-magnitude quake that struck at 4:35 a.m. Saturday near the South Island city of 400,000 people. Most other buildings sustained only minor damage.
Only two serious injuries were reported from the quake as chimneys and walls of older buildings were reduced to rubble and crumbled to the ground. Prime Minister John Key said it was a miracle no one was killed.
"If this had happened five hours earlier or five hours later (when many more people were in the city), there would have been absolute carnage in terms of human life," he told TV One News Sunday.