Christchurch hit by severe earthquake
WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR:
* 5.7 earthquake struck Christchurch around 1.13pm
* 4.0 magnitude aftershock at around 6.27pm
* Intensity listed as "severe"
* Buildings evacuated
* Felt widely around the South Island, as well as Wellington
* No reports of serious injuries or damage so far
* No tsunami threat to NZ
* NZTA advises drivers to stay away from Sumner
* Spark network congested - use text messages
* Christchurch and Burwood hospitals remain open
Christchurch residents will now have to once again begin putting their homes and property back together after the earthquake which rocked Christchurch.
So far, no major injuries or serious structural damage has been reported.
But there is still plenty of cleaning up to do, with reports of some buildings in South New Brighton being badly damaged, including broken glass and products having fallen off shop shelves.
There has also been some liquefaction in areas of Christchurch.
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* Insurers not expecting big claims
* Earthquake minister Gerry Brownlee says shake was expected
The EQC have told people that have suffered damage to their property that they have three months to lodge a claim with them.
EQC chief executive Ian Simpson says that Canterbury people have plenty of time to make a claim, after taking care of themselves, their families and friends.
"It can take some time for the picture regarding claims to emerge as people come to terms with what's happened and had a chance to take stock of what's happened to their properties," said Simpson.
EQC would increase the number of contact centre staff from Monday to handle any increase in calls.
People could make a claim by phoning 0800 DAMAGE. The call centre would be open from 7am to 9pm. People could leave a message outside those hours.
Geotechnical engineers were out on Sunday assessing damage, Simpson said.
A British woman, who just arrived in Christchurch when a "severe" earthquake struck, said she thought she was going to die.
The quake was originally listed as a magnitude 5.9, however Geonet has since downgraded its reading to a 5.7. It stuck around1.13pm on Sunday, 13km east of Christchurch at a depth of 14km.
* Did you feel the quake? Email your stories, pictures and video to email@example.com
British couple Mark and Elaine Bramwell had just arrived at their hotel after flying in from London.
"We ... went to our room and within minutes we heard a loud bang, the whole building shook for several minutes."
"It's the first time we ever experienced anything like this," Mark Bramwell said.
His wife said she was "absolutely terrified, I thought I was going to die."
"I knew straight away it was an earthquake."
"Strangely enough, I said to Mark, 'do you think there will be an earthquake when we're here' and he said, 'no, of course there won't', and within five minutes of getting into our hotel..."
CHECK ON FAMILY AND NEIGHBOURS
Canterbury District Health Board Chief Executive David Meates says people should check on their family and neighbours, particularly the elderly following the quake.
Meates said health board buildings have come through today's quake with reports of minor damage and further engineering inspections underway.
Burwood mums and babies who were in the Burwood Maternity Unit at the time of the first quake have been temporarily moved to other facilities as a precaution while that facility is checked.
Any mums expecting to go to Burwood on Sunday or on Monday should check in with their midwife.
General Practices, pharmacies, after hours services and the hospital emergency department are operating as normal. Community and public health have been in touch with local councils and advise that no damage has been reported to infrastructure such as water supply.
'SAVED FROM FALLING ROCKS'
A bike rider said containers at the bottom of Sumner cliffs saved his life from falling rocks when the quake struck.
Adam Bull, 19, was riding along Sumner with his friend when the quake hit.
"All of a sudden the bars start shaking and we hear this massive bang on the container. It sounded like someone was running on top of it and all of a sudden this dust just swept straight across the road.
"We looked up and just saw all these rocks just coming down so we biked as fast as we can out of there and stopped at the end, looked back and the rest of the cliff at the other end of Sumner was coming down."
"It was just mental.
"We were right at the start of the containers, it just went bang, bang, bang with all the rocks hitting the containers. If they weren't there, we were riding right next to it and we would have just been absolutely cleaned out for sure."
Huge plumes of dust billowed across parts of Sumner in the minutes after the quakes as parts of the cliffs near the seaside suburb collapsed.
A section of cliff at Godley Head collapsed into the sea with cliff collapses continuing for up to 30 minutes after the quake, creating loud booms and dust clouds.
A police spokeswoman said police were out doing "reassurance patrols" while a Fire Service spokesman said they had not had reports of damage yet, other than a "situation" at Whitewash Head near Sumner.
Police are stopping people from going up Whitewash Head, in Sumner, where parts of cliffs had fallen down.
Officers were not aware of anyone being injured from the cliff collapses, but residents were urged to stay away from cliff sides.
Nick Smith, 14, and his family were out boating near the entrance Lyttelton Harbour when the quake struck.
"We thought something had hit the boat. Mum just told us to look up and we saw rubble falling [from Godley Head] and collapsing on the water."
He quickly pulled out his phone and captured what was happening.
"It was a bit scary. It looked pretty bad from out there with all the dust."
BUILDINGS BADLY DAMAGED
South New Brighton resident Tony Jensen said some buildings in nearby suburbs were badly damaged, with a pub 2km to the north in New Brighton hit hard.
"I think everything smashed out of their fridge. Yet the club across the road is open, no drama."
The quake was an unpleasant reminder of the shake that devastated the city five years ago.
"It was just very, very scary," Jensen said. "All this is going to do is just freak everyone out."
Jensen said one woman he knew was extremely traumatised after the quake, and he imagined many other people would be, too.
He said many people would be too scared to go out to places such as shopping malls, as they were five years ago.
"It knocked me off my feet, but once again we didn't get a great deal of damage."
PEDESTRIANS HUDDLE ON STREET
Fairfax reporter Emily Spink was in the foyer of Christchurch's Centre of Contemporary Art (CoCA) when the earthquake struck.
The gallery re-opened on Saturday, after the February 2011 earthquake saw the closure of the art space.
Art-goers and people in a neighbouring ground-floor cafe ran from the building, and glass could be heard shattering from the second floor.
Pedestrians were visibly upset and some huddled together in the street.
In Cathedral Square, more of the Cathedral fell away in the shaking and a large gap could now be seen between the scaffolding and existing masonry.
David Gunzalez was in Re:Start Mall and said many people ran outside to the street and were crying or on their phones.
Tram operators did a full check of the tracks and overhead lines and were able to continuing working.
Lydia Clark of New Brighton BBB Florist said the quake was "violent without any warning".
"We've got a lot of broken glass," she said. "A lot of the shops around us had to shut.
"There were a lot of shop alarms going off but they've stopped now."
"Obviously Valentine's Day is one of our busiest days, but we have still had people come in afterwards. We have power and water, which we didn't have last time."
St John had deactivated its Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) in Christchurch
St John Ambulance spokesperson Ian Henderson said there had been a number of calls following the earthquake, but no reports of serious injuries or damage.
The National Crisis Management Centre has also been stood down, with the response to the earthquake being managed locally by Christchurch City Council. The centre was activated to monitor the situation and coordinate support across Government if required.
People have been advised by the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) to avoid the Sumner area as roads were congested.
The Lyttelton tunnel had been checked and re-opened following the shaking.
CELLPHONE TOWERS, POWER OUT
Telecommunications company Spark said 10 cellular towers were out, which was causing some network issues.
The network was also experiencing congestion, so Spark urged people to use text messages and data instead of calling where possible.
Electricity network operator Orion said just over 500 customers were impacted by the quake. By mid-afternoon that number was down to around 190.
Areas impacted were northeast Christchurch and Piper Valley on Banks Peninsula, Orion said.
There had been multiple calls about fire alarms activating, due to water pressure dropping. He urged people to check on friends and neighbours, but not to clog up roads needed for emergency services.
Seventeen aftershocks hit Christchurch within an hour, according to GeoNet.
The strongest of the aftershocks were two 3.5-magnitude quakes, both centred 10km east of the city.
The first was recorded at 1.17pm, just four minutes after the main quake, and the second at 2pm.
Tina Bell, 39, and her family had just left their home in Linkwater Way when the earthquake struck.
"I thought my husband's tyre had blown out and he said 'no, it's an earthquake'."
They returned to their home to find one side of their 20,000 litre pool, which sits above the ground in their backyard, had buckled.
Bell said she raced outside to switch off the power and the pool collapsed sending a wave of water through her house. The carpets were soaked, she said.
"I'm just glad my daughter wasn't in there. It's only a house."
Bell said the property was scheduled to be demolished and rebuilt.
Outside her home, liquefaction had bubbled up through freshly laid asphalt and residents were busy with their spades and wheelbarrows cleaning up.
"This is nothing," Bell said. "The whole road exploded in the February and June  ones.
"This is just so typical of our neighbourhood. Everyone just gets out and helps."
QUAKE CENTRED OFFSHORE
GNS seismologist Bill Fry said the quake was centred 15-20km offshore.
"If [a tsunami] was generated, we would probably know about it by now."
The Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management said there was no risk of tsunami anywhere in New Zealand as a result of the earthquake.
The fault had been known about since the devastating 6.3 Christchurch quake in February 2011.
While GNS was yet to get reports of damage, the magnitude was enough to cause some, Fry said.
The final magnitude of the quake would likely remain in the "high fives".
The shake was reported as being felt around the South Island, as well as Wellington.
GeoNet said the quake was likely to cause liquefaction. Christchurch residents are being urged to document and photograph any damage to their home or possessions.
Riccarton Mall and Northlands Mall were evacuated. Eastgate Mall and The Palms closed for the day but plan to open again on Monday.
Ballantynes department store was evacuated and a spokesperson said an engineer would check the building.
Siobhan Sadgrove, 20, was working in the Contemporary Lounge in the store when the quake struck.
"It was just quite violent. It definitely scared a lot of people."
She said there were cracks in the walls, but they appeared superficial. A lot of items had fallen off shelves and there was smashed glass on the floor.
Most shops at Merivale Mall evacuated. Ours included. Waiting outside unsure of next step #eqnz— Loz (@loz_douglas) February 14, 2016
The neighbourhood went quiet but now the sirens are starting. I'm going to get lunch. #eqnz— ruth (@lewisr3) February 14, 2016
'I DIDN'T WANT TO GO THROUGH ANOTHER ONE'
Chrissy Coulter, 54, who still has scars on her leg from an injury in the February 22, 2011 earthquake, said she had not felt a quake like it in some time.
She was also working in Ballantynes when the quake hit.
"It's just reminded me of what happened on the 22nd of February five years ago," she said. "This one was obviously a big quake so it just bought it all back again.
"I didn't want to go through another one."
Meanwhile, St Andrews College student Meg Longley was standing in Re:Start mall when the quake hit.
"It's quite a while since we've had a big one like that," she said.
"It started off really small but then it just kind of kept rolling and getting bigger and bigger which was really similar to the big 6.3 one.
"It just kind of felt the same."
Earthquake minister Gerry Brownlee says the Christchurch shake on Sunday may have been "frightening" but was expected.
He had received no reports from officials of injuries or deaths, and there were engineers on the ground to assess any damage.