A massive 7.4 magnitude earthquake has hit New Zealand’s South Island, causing widespread damage and knocking out power to much of the area, The Nelson Mail reports. The quake was centered about 20 miles west of Christchurch. The newspaper is located in Nelson, which is on the northern end of the South Island. The newspaper quotes one witness, Colleen Simpson, as saying residents of Christchurch were out in the street in their pajamas looking “scared and worried.” “Oh my God. There is a row of shops completely demolished right in front of me,” she is quoted as saying. Power was knocked out to the area and and mobile phones were beginning to fail, the newspaper reports. Update at 1:59 pm ET: Jarrod Booker, a reporter for the New Zealand Herald who lives in the central Christchurch suburb of Linwood, says he was awakened by “extremely violent shaking.” Booker reports numerous aftershocks.
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