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Two dead after severe quake

Damage to shopfronts in Picton. PHOTO/ROB BURN FACEBOOK


At least two people have died and several others have suffered non-fatal heart attacks and minor injuries following the 7.5 magnitude earthquake.

Emergency services have confirmed one death at the Elms Homestead in Kaikoura. Three people live at the historic home. One person was able to escape, one was rescued and third has died. Relatives of the family are having trouble contacting emergency services due to congested phone lines and power cuts.

A second person has died of a heart attack at a property in Mt Lyford and there are reports of several people suffering non-fatal heart attacks in the hours following the main quake.

St John has activated its National Crisis Coordination Centre and has set up local Emergency Operation Centres in the South Island. A spokeswoman said St John staff, resources and emergency equipment have been relocated to higher ground, and resource is being moved to affected areas in order to maintain response capability. Casualty numbers and injury numbers are unknown at this stage.

  • Kaikoura and several small South Island towns have been left isolated, with water and sewerage systems down and roads and rail lines blocked, after this morning’s devastating 7.5 quake
  • At least two people have been killed amid reports of other casualties – one victim suffered a heart attack, another was killed in a historic homestead in Canterbury
  • Wellington is also badly hit, with damage to buildings and roads – people are being told to avoid the Capital’s CBD
  • More than 250 aftershocks have hit the South Island and lower North Island in the 12 hours since the quake
  • Students sitting NCEA exams face disruption, delays – scholarship exams called off today
  • The 111 service is experiencing delays in worst-hit areas
  • The cost of the quake is expected to be hundreds of millions of dollars
  • Schools from North Canterbury to Wellington told to remain shut until damage can be assessed
  • Fire Service sending 7-strong urban search and rescue squad from Christchurch to Kaikoura
  • NZTA says roads some main highways are closed


Damage caused by New Zealand’s 7.5 earthquake, Leader Road, inland of SH1. PHOTO/TWITTER@ThomasMeadia

While there had been reports of items falling from shelves, some cracks in buildings and smashed windows in Wellington the true extent of property damage is being revealed as emergency service workers begin assess infrastructure and homes in the light of day.

Pictures are coming in of large slips and badly damaged roads in the Hurunui District. The small North Canterbury town Waiau, where a bridge has been badly damaged, is shut off.

Kaikoura has also been cut off but reports of bad damage are hard to substantiate due to power cuts, blocked roads and a congested mobile network. Military helicopters would be going there to assess damage and make contact. The Fire Service is also sending a seven-strong Urban Search And Rescue squad from Christchurch by helicopter.

Assessment teams are also being sent to Waiau and Blenheim.

In Wellington the TSB Arena and BNZ Centre have sustained the most damage. There is damage to wharves and the Inter Islander terminal, and the Tory Channel remained closed.

Shipping workers were forced to flee the Kings Wharf freight shipping terminal in Wellington, after cracks began appearing and water spurting from beneath them.

“It was just panic stations,” said the man who did not wish to be named.

“Water was coming up from the wharf, we had about five seconds to evacuate.”

The man said he and seven of his colleagues all ran out together, and huddled to protect themselves in case glass or debris fell from nearby buildings.

In Marlborough, emergency services are bracing themselves for an influx of calls as people see the extend of the damage.

Rural fire chief Richard McNamara said there was a number of vehicles stuck on State Highway 1, and a helicopter was waiting to survey the road in daylight.

“There will be a few people spending the night in their cars, I would say.”

He urged people not to travel unless it was urgent, because there was already congestion.

“There has been significant tidal movement in Picton and the [Marlborough] Sounds.”

McNamara said welfare centres in Rarangi and Waikawa were sheltering about 100 people, including residents of a rest home.

Buildings have reportedly fallen in Bleheim.

“Fire crews are roving the towns and CBD of Blenheim since the earthquake assisting where they need to and will continue that throughout he day.”

Psychologist Nigel Latta has posted advice on social media for coping with the mental impact of the quake, particularly for children.

“Reassure your little people. Keep calm and carry on best message for kids,” he posted on Twitter.

“Tell your kids aftershocks are just the earth farting. Have a laugh where you can. Follow news but try and get kids focus off news.”.


  1. How ironic is it that one of the ships offering its services to the earthquake disaster is the HMAS Darwin.
    It was on Christmas Eve in 1974 that Cyclone Tracy devastated the city of Darwin and as the airport was inoperable it was a fleet of 13 ships from the RAN that came to the rescue with supplies and personnel to help with the reconstruction.
    Two naval ratings drowned when their patrol boat sank only emphasising the immense ferocity of that particular natural disaster.
    Good to know the Navy fulfills that peace-time role despite what others might think.

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Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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