New Zealand hit by aftershocks after severe earthquake

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Strong aftershocks have roiled New Zealand following a 7.5-magnitude earthquake that killed two people.

The South Island has seen hundreds of tremors, including a 6.3-magnitude quake, after the initial one struck after midnight on Monday.

The epicentre is northeast of Christchurch, near the town of Kaikoura which has been cut off by landslides.

A large river dammed up by a landslide also breached its banks, sending a “large wall of water” downstream.

Residents around the Clarence River – one of the largest on South Island – were being urged to move immediately to higher ground.

The aftershocks have left some communities without power and water, although authorities are slowly restoring supplies.

GeoNet, a government-funded project monitoring earthquakes, said the first earthquake was actually two related tremors, and that aftershocks would continue over the next few months.

As the aftershocks keep coming, Kiwis up and down the country are sharing the same emotions.

Exhaustion from a sleepless night, concern for those still cut off from communication, and sadness for the two people who lost their lives. But there is also real relief.

This earthquake was greater in magnitude than 2011’s Christchurch tremor, but it didn’t bring the same level of devastation.

The cost of rebuilding will be huge – major parts of New Zealand’s infrastructure have been twisted and snapped out of shape.

But as is often the case when disaster strikes, New Zealand’s people have pulled together, checked on their neighbours and offered each other a safe haven.

Authorities have spent the night and day rescuing and evacuating residents along the east coast.

New Zealand media reported that a 100-year-old woman and her daughter-in-law were pulled out alive from their home in the town of Kaikoura, after the house collapsed in the first earthquake. The younger woman’s husband died.

A woman also died at Mount Lyford, southwest of Kaikoura, though there are reports she may have died from an existing medical condition.

Waves of around 2m (6.6ft) hit the coast shortly after the first earthquake. Authorities have since lifted a tsunami alert, but are still warning people to stay away from the shoreline.

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