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Last Updated: Friday, 21 December 2007, 06:30 GMT
NZ clean-up after powerful quake

Clean up operations are under way in the New Zealand city of Gisborne after a powerful earthquake damaged buildings and opened holes in roads.

No major injuries were reported after the magnitude 6.8 earthquake, which struck late on Thursday evening.

But officials declared a state of emergency for the city, where three buildings collapsed and others suffered partial damage.

Aftershocks were continuing to rock the city, on the North Island's east coast.

The earthquake struck at 2055 local time (0755 GMT) about 50km (31 miles) off the coast.

It was felt across much of New Zealand, including in the capital, Wellington.

'Very frightening'

Many Gisborne residents feared a tsunami and sought higher ground, but no warning was issued.

City officials inspect damage to buildings
Roofs and awnings were damaged in downtown Gisborne

Local resident Kathleen Munn told Radio New Zealand that she was terrified.

"The books all jumped off the bookcase and the bottles all jumped off the table," she said.

"I thought the house was going to fall down. It was very, very frightening."

Several small fires were reported in the aftermath and 11 people received minor injuries.

An elderly woman died of a heart attack brought on, her family said, by the shock of the quake, reports from New Zealand said.

Local officials said on Friday the damage was much worse than they had first thought, although most of it appeared to be limited mainly to older buildings.

"We've had three roof cave-ins or partial cave-ins overnight and there is substantial damage to some buildings," civil defence official Jon Davies told local media.

"Other buildings have come away from it extremely well."

New Zealand, caught between two major tectonic plates, experiences frequent earthquakes.

Country profile: New Zealand
05 Jun 07 |  Country profiles

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