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5.8-magnitude quake hits New Zealand city: USGS

[WELLINGTON] A 5.8-magnitude earthquake hit the New Zealand city of Christchurch Sunday, seismologists said, sending goods flying off shelves.

GeoNet Science, the official New Zealand earthquake monitoring service, warned of aftershocks following the "severe intensity" quake.

Sirens could be heard going off around the South Island city and at least one building was evacuated, according to media reports.

People posted pictures on social media of a cliff face crumbling into the sea, however emergency services said there were no immediate reports of any structural damage to buildings.

Jenny Krex, the manager of a coffee shop in the seaside suburb of Sumner, told the New Zealand Herald that items broke in her shop.

"Everyone got a big fright, we had everyone running out," she said.

"I made sure everyone was OK, it was quite a big shock. It's crazy out here at the moment." The quake struck a week before the fifth anniversary of a deadly 6.3-tremor in Christchurch, which killed 185 in one of New Zealand's deadliest disasters.

The latest quake was measured at 5.8 by the US Geological Survey at a shallow depth of about eight kilometres (five miles) and centred 17 kilometres west of the city.

"This quake is too small to have caused a tsunami," GeoNet spokeswoman Caroline Little said but added with such tremors "people and animals are alarmed, and many run outside. Walking steadily is difficult... objects fall from walls and shelves." New Zealand is on the boundary of the Australian and Pacific tectonic plates, which form part of the so-called "Ring of Fire", and experiences up to 15,000 tremors a year.