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Strong earthquakes rock shaken New Zealand city - again

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Geoff Slone/New Zealand Herald/AP

(Read caption) Damaged St. John the Baptist Church is seen following a series of earthquakes that shook Christchurch, New Zealand, June 13. A series of aftershocks rattled New Zealand's quake-devastated city of Christchurch again Monday, toppling one of the few buildings still standing downtown and sinking thousands of homes into darkness.

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This has not been a great year for those in the business of predicting natural disasters – just ask Harold Camping, the Christian radio broadcaster who prophesied that the world as we know it would end last month.

Scientists in New Zealand, however, are (perhaps not so surprisingly) better at their predictions; though they might be ruing their talent in the wake of yet another spate of nasty temblors in this country’s second-largest city, radiating out across half of these shaky isles, including the desk in Wellington where these words are being gingerly typed.

Late last month, residents of Christchurch, already seriously frazzled by two major earthquakes and 6,000 aftershocks since last September, awoke to the news that the region’s GNS Science had set the chances of another quake in the next year at 1 in 4. Specifically, the organization had put the likelihood of a magnitude-6.0 or -7.0 earthquake over the next 12 months at 23 percent, with a 90 chance of a shake between 5.0 and 6.0.

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