WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) - The mayor of Christchurch, New
Zealand, has declared a state of emergency and ordered evacuation
of the city center after a powerful earthquake collapsed buildings
and buried vehicles under debris.
Police said there were reports of multiple fatalities, but Prime
Minister John Key told Parliament that details were still too shaky
for those reports to be confirmed.
The quake was magnitude 6.3. Live video footage showed parts of buildings collapsed into the
streets, which were strewn with bricks and shattered concrete.
Sidewalks and roads were cracked and split, and hundreds of dazed,
screaming and crying residents wandered through the streets as
sirens blared throughout the city.
Witnesses said the quake destroyed the iconic stone Christchurch
Cathedral, its spire toppled into a central city square, and there
were reports of two buses crushed under falling buildings.
Christchurch has been hit by hundreds of aftershocks since a 7.1
magnitude earthquake on Sept. 4. It caused some $3 billion damage
and a handful of injuries, but no deaths. The city is home to about