Residents try to free a car stuck in a liquefaction sink hole in the Christchurch. - AFP Photo.

NEW ZEALAND: A series of strong earthquakes struck the New Zealand city of Christchurch on Friday, rattling buildings, sending goods tumbling from shelves and prompting terrified holiday shoppers to flee into the streets. There was no tsunami alert issued and the city appeared to have been spared major damage.

One person was injured at a city mall and was taken to a hospital, and four people had to be rescued after being trapped by a rock fall, Christchurch police said in a statement. But there were no immediate reports of serious injuries or widespread damage in the city, which is still recovering from a devastating February earthquake that killed 182 people and destroyed much of the downtown area.

The first 5.8-magnitude quake struck Friday afternoon, 16 miles (26 kilometers) north of Christchurch and 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) deep, the US Geological Survey said. Minutes later, a 5.3-magnitude aftershock hit. About an hour after that, the city was shaken by another 5.8-magnitude temblor, the USGS said, though New Zealand's geological agency GNS Science recorded that aftershock as a magnitude-6.0. Both aftershocks were less than 3 miles (5 kilometers) deep.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center did not issue an alert.

The city's airport was evacuated after the first quake and all city malls shut down as a precaution.

About 60 people were treated for minor injuries, including fractures, injuries sustained in falls and people with ''emotional difficulties,'' Christchurch St. John Ambulance operations manager Tony Dowell told The Associated Press.

''We have had no significant injuries reported as a result of the earthquakes today,'' he said.

Warwick Isaacs, demolitions manager for the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, said most buildings had been evacuated ''as an emergency measure.'' The area has recorded more than 7,000 earthquakes since a magnitude-7.0 quake rocked the city on Sept. 4, 2010. That quake did not cause any deaths.

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