One fatality reported as Christchurch quakes upgraded in strength

12:30, June 14, 2011      

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A series of quakes that rocked New Zealand's second city of Christchurch Monday left at least one person dead, health officials announced Tuesday as government scientists upgraded the strength of the worst of the tremors.

Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) said an elderly rest home resident had died as a result of the quakes Monday, but the board was only made aware of the death Tuesday.

No further details on the fatality were available.

Meanwhile, scientists at the government-run GeoNet monitoring center upgraded the strength of the worst two tremors and said they occurred much closer to the surface of the ground than previously thought.

The quake that struck at 2:20 p.m. Monday was raised from 6 to 6.3 on the Richter scale and was only 6 km below the surface, not 9 km as estimated Monday.

The new measurement puts it on a par with the Feb. 22 quake that left at least 181 people dead in the city.

Monday's 1 p.m. tremor was upgraded from 5.5 to 5.7 on the Richter scale and was at a depth of 10 km, rather the 11 km first announced.

However, the city escaped the damage caused by the February quake because Monday's aftershock -- at 10 km southeast of the city was centered further away, seismologist Martin Reyners told the New Zealand Herald.

"We've had strong ground movement recorded from it. The thing is it was south of the February event by 3 or 4 km," Reyners was quoted as saying.

The CDHB said up to 60 people were treated in Christchurch Hospital's emergency department in the five hours after the first quake, and 16 of them were admitted.

Four people were admitted with moderate to serious injuries, and two people were still in hospital Tuesday, both of them described as stable.

Three people were treated for hypothermia overnight as temperatures plummeted to around freezing and thousands of homes remained without electricity.

Source: Xinhua
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