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New Zealand Imposes Curfew for Quake-Hit City

Residents of the New Zealand city of Christchurch prepared for an uneasy night on Saturday, hours after a powerful magnitude-7.1 earthquake rocked the South Island earlier in the day.

Officials ordered residents who didn't need temporary accommodation to stay in their homes until Sunday morning.

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They said the curfew would help prevent people from going near about 120 inner-city buildings that were badly damaged in the early morning quake.

Up to 90 extra police officers were flying to Christchurch to help and troops were likely to join the recovery effort on Monday, the officials said.

A state of emergency was declared and army troops were on standby to assist after the quake, which was centered 19 miles west of the southern city.

Rescue workers, meanwhile, set up accommodation centers at schools in suburban areas to house hundreds of people forced out of their damaged homes.

"We have had 95 people turning up, and out of that I think 60 persons are staying here overnight," said Henry Jasewell, the emergency center supervisor at a college in Christchurch.

The massive quake shook thousands of people awake when it struck at 4:35 a.m., causing chimneys and walls to crumble to the ground and roads cracked in half.

New Zealand experiences thousands of earthquakes annually, so the buildings are well-fortified, reports CBS News correspondent Celia Hatton.

CBS Affiliate KOVR correspondent Kurtis Ming, who was on vacation in New Zealand when the quake occurred, said he had "quite a rude awakening," and the city has experienced dozens of aftershocks.

Ming said there was "pretty severe damage - buildings that looked like bombs went off, with glass and bricks all throughout the street.

"A lot of buildings in this town are built in brick, and bricks don't do so well in earthquakes," Ming said.

Prime Minister John Key said it was a miracle no one was killed. Only two serious injuries were reported from the quake,

There were reports of some people trapped inside damaged buildings - though none appeared to be crushed by rubble - and a few looters broke into some damaged shops in the city of 400,000.

Key warned it could be months before the full extent of the damage was known, but said initial assessments suggested it could cost at least 2 billion New Zealand dollars ($1.4 billion U.S. dollars) to repair.

Power was cut across the region, roads were blocked by debris, and gas and water supplies were disrupted, Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said.

State geological agency GNS Science reported 29 aftershocks in the 14 hours following the quake, ranging in strength from magnitude 3.7 to 5.4.

GNS Science initially reported the quake as magnitude 7.4, but later revised it to 7.1. The U.S. Geological Survey measured it at 7.0.

New Zealand sits above an area of the Earth's crust where two tectonic plates collide. The country records more than 14,000 earthquakes a year, but only about 150 are felt by residents. Fewer than 10 a year do any damage.

New Zealand's last major earthquake registered magnitude 7.8 and hit South Island's Fiordland region on July 16, 2009, moving the southern tip of the country 12 inches closer to Australia, seismologist Ken Gledhill said at the time.

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