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6.8 earthquake hits New Zealand
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An earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale hit the east coast off New Zealand's North Island on Thursday evening, according to the New Zealand earthquake monitoring system.


So far, no tsunami warning has been issued by the Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunamic Warning Center.



The quake was centered 40 km below the ocean, 50 km southeast of Gisborne and 400 km southeast of Auckland at 20:55 local time ( 07:55 GMT). The quake was felt in Wellington and as far south as Christchurch in the South Island.


In the North Island of Giboren, police said they have no reports of any injuries so far, but the town was in a state of chaos. The main street of Gisborne was shut, as the roofs of several large buildings have collapsed, and one of the main roads into the city has a huge hole in it, the NewtalkZB, a Wellington- based radio channel reported.


Off duty police have been called into work and Civil Defense staff were at the scene. Local police were asking everyone not to drive and to return to their homes.


Power in Gisborne was now back on, after Gisborne was plunged into darkness for almost 40 minutes after the quake.



A central police communications spokesman said "the quake has caused quite a lot of damage in the Gisborne area."


Civil defense had been activated and they were carrying out emergency plans.


The National Crisis Center has been activated, a spokeswoman from Civil Defense said.


The US Geological Survey said the quake was measuring at 6.6 on the Richter scale.



(Xinhua News Agency December 21, 2007)

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