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5.9 magnitude earthquake hits New Zealand
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A major earthquake measuring 5.9 on the Richter scale hit New Zealand's eastern North Island Monday night, but caused no casualties or major damage.

The 5.9 magnitude quake, which struck at 11:25 p.m. Monday (1125 GMT Monday), was centered about 10 km southwest of Hastings at a depth of 30 km, the GNS Science said on Tuesday.

It was one of the biggest earthquakes in the Hawke's Bay in recent years.

Power was lost in two areas of Napier following the quake but supplies were quickly restored.

Hastings District Council activated its emergency response center to monitor developments but did not declare a Civil Defense emergency.

The council said a damage assessment will be carried out on Tuesday morning, although there have been no reports of major damage.

Police said they have had reports of items falling from shelves in people's homes during the quake.

Warwick Smith, duty seismologist at the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences, said the quake was the first for some time to strike onshore in a populated area. It was reasonably deep at 30 km and the damage could have been far worse, Radio New Zealand reported.

An aftershock of 3.5 magnitude was recorded soon after Monday's big quake and more aftershocks were expected.

Some supermarkets reported minor incidents of stock falling on the floor.

And the Napier-Gisborne railway line was closed while the railway staff checked for damage from the quake.

A decision on re-opening the line would be made later on Tuesday morning.

(Xinhua News Agency August 26, 2008)

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