The quake struck at 1.58pm today, local time, and was followed by a second sharp jolt a few minutes later. Several other aftershocks have also been recorded.
The Christchurch Airport has been evacuated and the Fire Service deployed. Phone lines are down.
A police spokeswoman did not know whether there had been any reports of damage or injuries but said the phones were very busy.
A 4.9-magnitude quake at 10.30am was the seventeenth most powerful since the damaging 7.1 quake on September 4. The earthquake that caused the most damage hit on February 22, killing 182 people.
This year retail giant Myer will launch its annual post-Christmas shopping bonanza two days early, on Christmas Eve, for selected online customers.
An email to the store’s Myer one loyalty card customers says selected items will be available for purchase on the company’s website from 6pm tomorrow. Other customers will be able to access the stocktake sale online from 6am on Christmas day.
Professor Steve Worthington, from Monash University’s faculty of business and economics, said the early online sales were an attempt to get shoppers to part with their cash as quickly as possible in troubled economic times. “It’s an attempt to keep bringing things forward, to try to get people to go and spend as quickly as possible,” he said.
How have your spending habits changed recently – are you shopping online more?
An eight-year-old girl who was swept away in the Boxing Day tsunami has been found alive – almost seven years to the day the giant wave hit her Indonesian village.
The 15-year-old, known as Wati, showed up in the nearby city of Meulaboh yesterday and told staff at the Simpang Pelor cafe that she was trying to get home.
Wati could remember only one relative’s name, her grandfather Ibrahim. She was taken to his house, where she was quickly identified as his missing granddaughter. He sent for the girl’s mother Yusniar and father Yusuf, who recognised their daughter from a small scar above her eyebrow that she got when she was six years old.