It happened in Christchurch a major populated city in New Zealand
Exact time it happened was the 22nd February at 12:51 and 43 seconds local time (23:51:43 GMT)
The tectonic plates (the hard shells of rock covering the earth) are moving beneath us. When they shudder together, or jump apart we get earthquakes. In Christchurch the Australian plate is grinding against the Pacific plate.
The Earthquake measured 6.3 on the Richter scale.
Long term impact
Why so much damage and so many deaths???
New Zealand is no stranger to the results of plate tectonics. The country sits almost directly on top of the boundary between two chunks of the Earth's crust, the Pacific Plate and the Australian Plate. The two plates grind against each other, creating tension spots where potential energy builds up and is released in the form of earthquakes—a lot like pushing on a stuck door until it finally flies open. New Zealanders feel as many as 200 earthquakes every year, but most are nothing more than a minor jiggle. And even big, throttling shakes, like the 7.1 magnitude quake that hit the country five months ago, can come and go without killing anyone.
Last year's 7.1-magnitude earthquake was more than 10 times as strong as today's but caused no deaths, probably because it occurred at greater depth and further away from Christchurch: its epicentre was 70 kilometres west of the city. And the focus of September's quake was some 10 kilometres below ground - todays were half as deep which meant that many people would not be able to get out of reach of falling buildings.
After the earthquake
Here I have found how a man has coped after the earthquake has happened:
We live approximately 8km from the epicentre, in a seaside area, which is somewhat geographically isolated from the rest of Christchurch.
But all the houses here have damage ranging from a few cracks to walls collapsing. Luckily all are still habitable and we have had power and water restored.
We're out at the moment trying to buy food and have found the local supermarket's shelves are three quarters full and the roof is partially open to the elements.
But the major sign of what had happened were lines at the supermarket and gas stations running out of petrol.
However rescue efforts are being organised and good information is being posted on the internet suggesting where…