New Zealand: Aftershocks after severe earthquake


New Zealand hit by aftershocks after severe earthquake

Strong aftershocks have rocked New Zealand following a 7.8-magnitude earthquake that killed two people.

The South Island has seen hundreds of tremors, including a 6.3-magnitude quake, after the initial one struck after midnight on Monday.

The epicentre is northeast of Christchurch, near the town of Kaikoura which has been cut off by landslides.

A large river dammed up by a landslide also breached its banks, sending a “large wall of water” downstream.

Residents around the Clarence River – one of the largest on South Island – were being urged to move immediately to higher ground.

Military helicopters and a navy ship are being sent to evacuate more than a thousand people who remain stranded in Kaikoura.

The aftershocks have left some communities without power and water, although authorities are slowly restoring supplies.

Prime Minister John Key described the scene in Kaikoura as “utter devastation” while flying over the area. He said the damage bill will likely be in the “billions of dollars”, according to a statement seen by Reuters.

GeoNet, a government-funded project monitoring earthquakes, said the first earthquake was actually two related tremors, and that aftershocks would continue over the next few months.