An earthquake of 5.8 magnitude struck near the New Zealand city of Christchurch on Friday, the U.S. Geological Survey said, prompting the evacuation of public buildings, but causing no immediate damage.

There were no immediate reports of casualties. The quake was at a very shall depth of 2.9 miles (4.7 km).

It was incredibly violent, one caller told Radio New Zealand.

All the water in my birdbath slopped out and I could hear everything falling over inside. When I walked inside, the cat streaked out the door, ornaments were all over the floor, contents of the pantry were lying on the floor, a little bit of smashed glass and picture frames lying over.

Christchurch, New Zealand's third city, is recovering from a quake measuring 6.3 which killed about 180 people in February and caused estimate damage of NZ$15 billion (7.4 billion pounds).

Radio New Zealand said malls and office blocks had been evacuated and power had been knocked out in some districts. Goods had been toppled from some store shelves.

A quake of lesser intensity struck Christchurch in September last year.

(Writing by Robert Birsel)