A powerful aftershock, with a magnitude of 6.2, hit New Zealand today at about 8.45am HKT, rattling the South Pacific country.
This follows an earthquake with a 7.8 magnitude that hit 7pm HKT yesterday, killing at least two people, damaging roads and buildings and setting off hundreds of strong aftershocks.
A tsunami warning that led to mass evacuations after the original quake was downgraded after large swells hit New Zealand’s capital Wellington, in the North Island, and Christchurch.
New Zealand’s Civil Defence declared a state of emergency soon after this morning’s aftershock.
Emergency response teams flew by helicopter to epicentre of yesterday’s tremor, which struck some 91 kilometres northeast of Christchurch in the South Island.
“It’s just utter devastation, I just don’t know ... that’s months of work,” New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said after flying over the coastal town of Kaikoura.
Powerlines and telecommunications were down, with huge cracks in roads, land slips and other damage to infrastructure making it hard to reach the worst-affected areas.
Government research unit GNS Science said yesterday’s tremor appeared to have been two simultaneous quakes which together lasted more than two minutes.