Masterton building red-stickered after quake

Fifteen people will not be able to return home tonight after their building in the centre of Masterton was red-stickered as a result of today's earthquake.

Wairarapa area Civil Defence controller Kevin Tunnell said the three-storey Daniels Building on Queen St had sustained unspecified damage in the quake.

It was initially deemed unsafe by the Fire Service and then by Masterton District Council engineers.

Its 15 tenants would not be allowed home for at least tonight and engineers would carry out further inspections tomorrow.

Most of the tenants had managed to find alternative accommodation but two who had not would be housed by the council tonight.

Mr Tunnell said the building's locks had been changed to prevent the tenants trying to retrieve their belongings.

"The natural instinct is for people to get back into their residence but unfortunately that's against the law at the moment."

Meanwhile, New Zealand Transport Agency spokesman Ewart Barnsley said they were fairly confident the state highway network had come through the quake largely unscathed.

However, engineers were continuing to conduct checks and motorists were advised to exercise appropriate caution.

"We're pretty confident that our state highway network is okay and Manawatu Gorge is okay. Traffic's flowing okay," he said.

A Kiwirail spokeswoman said the Wellington metropolitan network would be replaced by buses for the remainder of today, but they were hopeful services would be back to normal by tomorrow morning.

There had been two small pieces of damage - a pole holding electrification wires had come down north of Marton and tracks had been damaged near Masterton.

Kiwirail was also hopeful the freight network, which was closed down south of Taihape following the quake, would also be back to normal tomorrow.

- Matthew Theunissen of APNZ

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