Early Monday morning an earthquake with a magnitude of about 7.8 struck New Zealand’s South Island, killing two.

According to the US Geological Survey, an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.0 and above can cause considerable damages to structures that are not specifically designed to withstand earthquakes.

The earthquake struck 100 kms northeast of Christchurch, a city still recovering from a 6.3 magnitude earthquake in 2011 that killed 185 people.

Reports say that the quake has severely damaged the highways along the east coast. Landslides have blocked the highway into the town of Kaikoura, leaving residents stranded.

Courtney Schick is from Saskatchewan, but now lives in Christchurch. She was out of town when the quake hit, but says it has left people on edge. “Everyone’s in shock and a lot of people want to move. People back in Christchurch who were there for the big earthquake in 2011, they always want to leave as soon as another one happens.”

 Danika Soper, a student at the University of Regina, is from New Zealand and has family on the South Island that felt the quake.

“I was worried off the bat just because of where it was and I knew my brother was right there…but everyone was fine.”

Earthquakes are a common occurrence in New Zealand, as it sits on a fault line. Schoolchildren have earthquake drills in the same manner that kids in Saskatchewan have tornado drills.

New Zealand sits on the “Ring of Fire,” an area around the edge of the Pacific Ocean where several tectonic plates meet.

British Columbia is also on the “Ring of Fire.” However the earthquake in New Zealand does not mean that British Columbia is at a higher risk for seismic activity.

Kathryn Bethune, a professor of geology at the University of Regina, says earthquakes are impossible to predict. “That’s really important. We can’t predict when they’re going to occur.”

However, Bethune suggests those in British Columbia may be expecting one, since they haven’t had one in over 100 years.

Soper has felt earthquakes in New Zealand before, though they were much smaller than the one that hit on Monday.

“The whole ground is shaking but you can’t do anything about it, like you’re on a ride and you can’t get off it.”

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