WELLINGTON, New Zealand – A powerful earthquake that struck New Zealand reminded many of the quake that hit the nation in February 2011 and devastated the city of Christchurch, the country's second-biggest city, though Monday's quake was not nearly as destructive.
A comparison of the two quakes:
MAGNITUDE AND DEPTH
Monday's quake, with a magnitude of 7.8, was much stronger than the magnitude-6.3 quake in 2011. But it also was much deeper — striking 23 kilometers (14 miles) below the earth's surface. The 2011 quake had a depth of just 5 kilometers (3 miles). The shallower a quake is, the more destruction it tends to cause.
Monday's quake struck New Zealand's South Island in a mostly rural area that's dotted with small towns. It caused some damage in Wellington, the capital, more than 200 kilometers (120 miles) to the north. It was also strongly felt in Christchurch, 93 kilometers (57 miles) to the southwest, where residents said the shaking went on for about three minutes. The 2011 quake was centered just 10 kilometers (6 miles) southeast of the center of Christchurch.
Both quakes were followed by a large series of aftershocks, many of them strong. Since Monday's quake, at least four temblors of magnitude 6.1 or higher have been recorded in the region.
The 2011 quake killed 185 people and injured thousands. So far, the death toll from Monday's quake stands at two, with one person dying in the small coastal town of Kaikoura and another in Mt. Lyford, a nearby ski resort. Prime Minister John Key said authorities had no reason to believe the death toll would climb further.
The 2011 quake gutted much of downtown Christchurch, with more than 1,000 central city commercial buildings and 10,000 homes destroyed. Monday's quake cracked roads and homes, but largely spared the country the devastation it saw from the 2011 quake.
The 2011 quake caused an estimated $25 billion in damage. It's too early to tell what the cost of Monday's quake will be, but officials have estimated that the cleanup will run into the billions.