New Zealand EarthquakeAn earthquake with a magnitude of 7.0 shook New Zealand on Saturday. It was centered about 20 miles northwest of Christchurch. The 7.5 mile deep quake was actually smaller than first reports indicated. Aftershocks continue to shake the region, one was measured at  5.7.

Christchurch is experiencing power and cell phone outages throughout the city, and many homes and businesses are reporting damage. Some witnesses spoke of shops being leveled. The quake was felt as far away as Wellington. Hotels throughout the region have reported damaged walls and surfaces as well.

Parts of the city are being evacuated due to unstable structures and falling masonry. Red Cross teams are being deployed.  And the NZ Air Force has a C-130 en route to Christchurch with 42 search and rescue  personnel, and three search and rescue dogs, on board.

The quake struck in the early morning hours, 4:35 a.m. local time, which caused many residents to flee their homes in their pajamas. The earthquake is one of the largest to hit the area since 1931. Residents are being asked to conserve water and check on neighbors.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center does not expect tsunamis as a result of the quake.

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