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Browne's sympathies over earthquake

Foreign Office minister Jeremy Browne has offered Britain's sympathies to the people of the New Zealand city of Christchurch, which has been struck by a series of earthquakes.

There were no immediate reports of serious injuries or widespread damage in the city, which is still recovering from a devastating quake that killed 182 people and destroyed much of the central city area in February.

Mr Browne, who visited Christchurch in September to view reconstruction work, said: "I am saddened by the news that Christchurch has once again been rocked by a series of earthquakes.

"Having visited the city in September, I am confident that the positive spirit and resilience of all those that I met then will see them through the immediate challenges ahead and beyond as work continues on reconstruction.

"My thoughts are with the people of Christchurch at this time, particularly the injured, their families and friends."

The first 5.8-magnitude quake struck 16 miles north of Christchurch at about 2pm local time (1am in the UK) and was followed by two aftershocks with a magnitude of 5.3 and 5.8, according to the US Geological Survey. The February quake was a magnitude of 6.3.

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