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Last Updated: Monday September 06 2010 12:07 GMT

In pics: Strong earthquake hits New Zealand

New Zealand earthquake - people take photos of a collapsed house

A powerful earthquake measuring 7.0 magnitude has struck New Zealand's South Island, smashing buildings, homes and roads and causing power cuts.

New Zealand earthquake - man checks out damaged road

The quake hit at 4:35am on Saturday morning when most people were asleep. It was so powerful it was felt widely across the island.

New Zealand earthquake - jewellers with walls ripped off

At least 500 buildings in Christchurch, the island's largest city, have been destroyed by the quake.

New Zealand earthquake - man walks along damaged road

Nobody died - but two people were seriously injured. The quake was as powerful as the one that hit Haiti in January this year.

New Zealand earthquake - collapsed roof

But New Zealand is more experienced than Haiti when it comes to earthquakes - their buildings are much stronger so were able to withstand the shocks.

New Zealand earthquake - woman looks at big crack in road

There are actually more than 14,000 earthquakes a year registered in New Zealand but most of them are too weak to be felt.

New Zealand earthquake - Prime Minister John Key surveys the damage

Prime Minister John Key has been visiting the damaged areas in Christchurch. Several buildings had to be demolished because they were considered too unsafe to be left standing.

New Zealand earthquake - kids play in crack in the road

Schools across the region have been closed as officials check whether they're safe or not - good news for these guys!