Cliff collapses into sea as 'severe' earthquake hits New Zealand

Several people injured after 5.9 magnitude earthquake struck the South Island

Updated: 
Cliff Collapses Following Christchurch Earthquake
A cliff has collapsed into the sea near the city of Christchurch on New Zealand's South Island after a 5.9 magnitude earthquake struck on Sunday afternoon.

Swimmers and surfers were on the beaches to the east of the city when rocks fell into the sea.

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According to the BBC, the country's seismological body GNS Science classified the earthquake as "severe" and recorded that it took place at a depth of 15km and 15km to the east of Christchurch.

Stephen O'Dwyer was walking his dog on the beach with his wife when the cliff in Sumner began to fall.

"The ground started to go soft," he told the BBC. "Water was coming up under the sand and people were sinking down to the ankles as the ground went soft. It shook for about 20 seconds."

Several people were injured when the earthquake struck and one building was evacuated.

The Guardian reports that paramedics were called to the scene where a number of people fell over.

New Zealand sits on the 'Ring of Fire,' an arc of seismic faults where earthquakes are common.

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