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(This brief report may be updated periodically.)

Geonet reports magnitude 5.8 earthquake at 1:58pm just offshore to the east of Christchurch, at a depth of 8km. This was followed by a magnitude 5.3 and just a few minutes ago (3:18pm) another aftershock that looks to be over magnitude 5. USGS is reporting both larger aftershocks to be magnitude 5.8, reporting both to be at an estimated depth of  just under 5km.

Dec2011-EQNZ

With goods falling of shelves and the general chaos that happens, this will have put a spanner in the works of anyone trying last-minute Christmas shopping in Christchurch.

Those that follow my earthquake report thread will know this is the first event over magnitude 4 in quite a while. Here’s hoping for not too much damage and that everyone is fine. Initial comments from informal sources suggest there is little major damage and no loss of life, with only one injury reported thus far.

Telecom NZ has called for mobile calls to be limited to emergency use.

An initial Police report is available, reporting ’no serious injuries or widespread damage at this stage.’

Items on #eqnz (twitter) – please note that many of these are unconfirmed (comments in square brackets are my own):

@PatrickNZ (Patrick)
All flights grounded in NZ due to evacuation of air traffic control in Chch [Other reports say flights are diverted from Christchurch, which sounds more realistic to me.]
@BreakingNZ (Breaking News)
#EQNZ ALERT — Liquefaction has begun taking place in localised areas of Christchurch.
@publicaddress (Russell Brown)
Opened a thread for our #chch Public Address people to check in and report, and for the rest of us to bring hugs: pubadr.es/7544 #eqnz
@JoyReidTVNZ (Joy Reid)
Can hear sirens an alarms whirring all over the city!!!
@OrionNZ (Orion New Zealand)
Some power is out in #chch after the 5.8 #eqnz. We will assess the situation & provide an update asap
@dchengnzh (Derek Cheng)
Police say initial reports following this afternoon’s earthquake indicate no serious injuries or widespread damage at this stage [Several other tweets say similar.]
@dchengnzh (Derek Cheng)
Scarborough rockface has suffered some collapse but this has been contained by the containers at the foot of the cliff.
@danaavk (Dana)
wine bottles broke, now my kitchen smells like an AA meeting
@ktflood (Katie Flood)
Dad @ CHCH airport, lots of broken glass & shaken ppl but apparently hoping to re-open at 3 acc to Civil Defence [Other reports suggest re-opening later in the day.]
@five15design (Paul Le Comte)
just had report form my lame uncle in CHCH who literally just dodged a collapsing brick wall on the sidewalk in Linwood #EQNZ #TooClose
@CERAgovtnz (CERA)
Confirming that CBD red zone is closed
@LibbyDallison
That was HUGE!! Smashed widows all through our house. Power out….
@JoyReidTVNZ (Joy Reid)
House collapsed in St Martins. Major holes in the road reported on Broadhaven Avenue
@rafmanji (Raf Manji)
The filing cabinet has finally given up the ghost #eqnz yfrog.com/obxavxzj

I’d suggest those wanting more to use the #eqnz search on twitter themselves. As a practical matter they’re coming in too fast for me.

The NZ Herald has some updates.

4:15pm – I have to leave this at this point. To those in Christchurch: Kia kaha

[Updated to add image, 24-Dec 10:40am.]

[Update links to USGS, 29-Sep-2013 11:05pm; thanks to Katie Cook for drawing this to my attention.]