WELLINGTON, Sept. 4 (Xinhua) -- New Zealand' South Island was shaken by a major earthquake measuring 7.4 on the Richter scale on Saturday.
There were no immediate reports of injures, but widespread damage and power blackouts were reported.
The quake happened at 4:35 a.m. local time (1635 GMT Friday) and was centered some 30 km northwest of South Island's largest city Christchurch. It was at a depth of 33 km, the New Zealand Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences reported.
It was also felt in other parts of the South Island and in Wellington.
No tsunami warning has been issued after the temblor.
Helena Wang, a resident in Christurch, told Xinhua that the quake was strongly felt in the city. She said the quake rocked her house terribly, and books fell to the ground from the book shelf. She said electricity was out in her house and there were also aftershocks.
Some local residents were out in the streets in their pajamas, looking scared and worried.
A spokesperson with the lines company Orion said power is out in most of Christchurch because of the extensive damage there. The spokesperson said sewer lines and water pipes have ruptured, and whole substations are offline.
Christchurch police said part of Avonside Drive was ripped up and had to be closed to traffic.
Structural damage to houses and broken glass have been reported throughout Christchurch.
Police said damage and power outages have been experienced as far afield as Dunedin.
A spokesperson for the Civil Defense Headquarters said staff will decide soon whether to activate the national crisis center.
The spokesperson said information is still coming in about the earthquake, which is being assessed, and a decision will be made soon.
The rail network in the South Island has been shut down while being inspected for damage.
There has been widespread damage to buildings on the corner of Edgeware Road and Barbados Street, with rubble lying on the road and properties badly damaged. Power lines are also down on the footpath in the area, local media reported.
Police are asking people to remain calm, as power is expected to be restored soon and police will then be able to assess the damage.