Updated: 15/11/16 : 06:40:44
Printable Version   Bookmark and Share Share This

world

World :: Evacuations underway following New Zealand quakes

New Zealand rescue workers are evacuating scores of tourists and residents from the town hardest hit by a series of powerful earthquakes.

Four air force helicopters have been airlifting people out of Kaikoura on the South Island after battling strong winds and heavy rain earlier.

The town, northeast of Christchurch, has been cut off by landslides triggered by the quakes.

Hundreds of aftershocks continue to rock the area.

Two people were killed in the 7.5 magnitude earthquake that struck the South Island early on Monday.

The capital, Wellington, on the North Island has been enduring poor weather on Tuesday, with heavy rain and flooding.

Two ships and other aircraft are assisting with the evacuations, said the New Zealand Defence Force.

Prime Minister John Key said the top priority was to provide desperately needed supplies to Kaikoura.

Police have warned that water and electricity supplies are running low, while hundreds of people remain in evacuation shelters and community centres.

At least 1,000 people are being housed in the local marae, or Maori meeting place in Kaikoura. They had crayfish - the town's specialty - for breakfast on Tuesday, after local fisheries' tanks failed with the electricity shortage, reported Reuters.

"It's better to use the food than throw it in the rubbish," said local Maori community leader Mark Solomon.

Local divers and fishermen are also working to relocate tens of thousands of paua - a type of mollusc - after the seabed rose out of the water by around 2m (6.6 ft), leaving them stranded, Newshub reports.