Hundreds of quake claims lodged

Hundreds of quake damage claims have been lodged as a result of the severe magnitude 6.2 tremor that damaged homes, cut power and forced the evacuation of a building in Masterton yesterday.

The Earthquake Commission (EQC) this afternoon said it had received more than 650 claims relating to the quake, which rocked the lower North Island when it struck 15km east of Eketahuna, near Masterton, shortly before 4pm yesterday.

Most claims were for minor damage to homes or contents in the the greater Wellington, Wairarapa and Manawatu regions. People have until the end of April 22 to lodge a claim.

Claims were still coming in, and assessors would be mobilised to inspect earthquake damage once EQC had a better idea of the number of claims it was dealing with.

EQC said there was sufficient cover through levies, reinsurance and the Crown guarantee to provide for all valid claims.

National operations manager Barry Searle said claimants needed to hold onto damaged items other than perishables.

"If people need to take action to make their home safe, secure and weathertight, they should keep records and photographs of the changes made so that they can recover costs if their claim is valid."

The quake forced the evacuation of a three-storey apartment block on Queen St in central Masterton. About 15 people were told to leave the building, which was classed as a dangerous building, subject to inspection,

A council spokesman said a meeting was underway to discuss when tenants would be able to return and when assessments would take place.

GNS Science said aftershocks were continuing, with more than 50 over magnitude 3 since yesterday.

Police, ambulance and the Fire Service were kept busy with a steady flow of callouts, but no deaths or serious injuries were reported.

Power was cut to 5600 customers in some areas, but Powerco said electricity was expected to be fully restored today.

Only a handful of properties in and around Eketahuna, Alfredton, Palmerston North, Fielding and Manaia were still without power, and those consumers were expected to be reconnected by about 6pm.

Several roads, including the Manawatu Gorge road, were closed or reduced to one lane yesterday.

The New Zealand Transport Agency said all state highways in the Wellington, Wairarapa and Manawatu regions remained open.

A spokesman said staff and contractors were continuing to inspect State Highway 2 to see if there was any earthquake-related damage.

The agency advised all road users to drive with care and be alert to debris that may have fallen on to highways.

KiwiRail stopped all rail services in the lower North Island yesterday while track inspections were carried out to check for damage to the rail infrastructure.

Inspections had so far found only found two minor areas of damage north of Palmerston North and Masterton.

Freight services were resumed last night, and commuter rail services in Wellington, including services from Wairarapa and Palmerston North, resumed this morning.


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