'Moderate' earthquake shakes Australia and New Zealand

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The Independent Online

Moderate earthquakes rattled parts of Australia and New Zealand today, including the devastated city of Christchurch where power was cut to thousands of homes, officials said.

No major damage was reported from either quake, and no tsunami warning was issued.

The magnitude-5.2 quake that struck Christchurch was far less powerful than one that leveled office blocks and homes in the New Zealand city on 22 February, killing at least 169 people and devastating the downtown area.

Energy supplier Orion said today's quake cut power to about 20,000 homes and businesses in the city, but officials were working quickly to restore service. No other damage was reported.

Christchurch has been hit by scores of aftershocks since the February disaster.

Eighteen minutes before New Zealand's earthquake today, a magnitude-5.2 quake hit about 80 miles southeast of the Australian coastal city of Townsville in Queensland state, at a depth of about 6 miles below the ocean floor.

"It scared my daughter enough that she jumped on the couch with me and my windows were rattling," Townsville local government councilor Natalie Marr said.

Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported from Queensland that residents of several towns and cities along the coast felt the quake.