A car drives past a crack in a road after an earthquake on the outskirts of the town of Seddon in the Marlborough region. Photo by Reuters
Wellingtonians shaken by yesterday's magnitude 6.6 quake are
being warned to expect aftershocks for the next few days.
Scientists last night said they were surprised by yesterday's
6.6 quake, as it was unusual to see a doublet of
But while they can't say if or when a third plus-6 magnitude
quake will strike, they are warning that decent-sized
aftershocks will continue in the short term.
"We are definitely expecting it to be quite vigorous in the
next couple of days, and then it will die off," GNS
seismologist Dr Caroline Little said last night.
They also say there is no certain way to tell that The Big
One won't strike the region.
Emergency workers reported a quiet night in Wellington.
The severe earthquake rocked the upper South Island and lower
North Island yesterday afternoon and sent workers in
Wellington running into the streets as the ground shook and
buildings swayed from side to side.
GNS confirmed the earthquake at 2.31pm was a magnitude 6.6
and was just 8km deep, 3km shallower than the magnitude 6.5
quake which hit the Cook Strait last month.
It was centred just off Seddon at the top of the South
Island, causing significant damage to houses and
infrastructure in the region.
This morning Civil Defence, police and fire reported a quiet
night in Wellington.
The Wellington CBD was open for business this weekend -
although people were advised to pay attention to any cordons.
A nine-storey lift shaft attached to the James Smith
car-parking building is to be demolished immediately, with
engineers and a large crane on site.
Demolition is expected to take several days.
Wellington City Civil Defence Controller Stavros Michael said
council inspectors and the police would use "dangerous
building" provisions of the Building Act to require the
evacuation of buildings immediately surrounding the lift
Civil Defence has found temporary accommodation for about 30
All council facilities, including libraries, are open.
Surveillance of the city by council building officers and
inspectors did not identify any substantial damage, and
building owners had engaged structural engineers who were
working through the weekend to prepare for business as usual
All major utilities and infrastructure have been inspected
and they are operating as normal.
Trains and buses were operating as normal.
Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said people should enjoy
their normal weekend activities as much as possible.
Ms Wade-Brown said both the Downtown Community Ministry
bookfair and the Kirk's sale were starting today.
"The city is operating as usual, sportsfields and recreation
facilities are open - get out there and enjoy them."
The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) was aiming to have State
Highway 1 between Seddon and south of Ward reopened by midday
as crews worked to repair long cracks in the road surface.
Marlborough Roads Manager Frank Porter said the earthquake
opened up several large cracks in the road, and contractors
were working to get them filled as soon as possible.
"If we do the job in one fell swoop then that reduces the
overall disruption to motorists, and the troops are working
as fast as they can to restore access for everyone.
"We know this is frustrating for the motorists and truckies
who rely on this lifeline, and we hope to provide some
welcome relief very soon."
Mr Porter said once the road was reopened there was likely to
be further roadworks to patch up the highway, and delays were
likely throughout the day.
Hundreds of Wellington commuters were left stranded following
the quake, with the rail network crippled and 11 commuter
trains stuck between platforms for up to an hour.
The mass exodus from the city also caused traffic chaos in
the suburbs as drivers tried to avoid the motorway and get
home via back streets.
The NZTA said pedestrians stranded in the city were walking
along the motorway between Wellington and Petone.
Damage appeared to be restricted to the Manners Mall, Cuba St
and Featherstone St areas of the CBD, where there is broken
glass on the roads.
The upper South Island felt the full force of the earthquake,
with homes in Marlborough seriously damaged.
Laura-Jean Kerslake was asleep when the quake struck and had
to run from her crumbling heritage home in Seddon.
The 1874 cottage, where she lives with her parents and infant
son, partially collapsed in the tremor.
Ms Kerslake said everyone else was out of the house and she
managed to get out without being hit by falling debris.
"It was terrifying," she said
GNS seismologist Anna Kaiser said the latest earthquake meant
there was an increased possibility of further large quakes.
Geonet figures show there had been over 100 aftershocks since
yesterday's magnitude 6.6 quake with at least six reaching
magnitude 5 or greater.
- by Brendan Manning of APNZ/Jamie Morton of New Zealand