Christchurch hit by largest quake in historic time: experts

19:55, February 22, 2011      

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Two people walk past buildings damaged in the earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, Feb. 22, 2011. New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said on Tuesday that at least 65 people were killed in the 6.3 magnitude earthquake in South Island city of Christchurch earlier in the day. (Xinhua/Wang Hao)

Due to the shallow distance of the epicenter from populated areas, Tuesday's event is so far the largest earthquake to have occurred in New Zealand's Christchurch region in historic time, Australian experts said.

A massive 6.3 earthquake hit New Zealand South Island's largest city of Christchurch for the second time in less than six months.

The quake on Tuesday struck at a shallow depth of just four kilometers with an epicenter around 10 km outside Christchurch.

At least 65 people are confirmed dead in the quake, but the death doll is expected to climb as rescuers continue to look for survivors in buildings. New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said the nation may be witnessing "its darkest day".

According to Dr. Gideon Rosenbaum, a Lecturer in the School of Earth Sciences at Australia's University of Queensland, the distance of the epicenter from populated areas is the key to determine how destructive a magnitude 6.3 earthquake can be.
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http://english.people.com.cn/90001/90777/90851/7296402.pdf