Cows isolated after NZ earthquake

Cows stranded by landslides on the coast north of Kaikoura, New Zealand. Photo: Newshub NZ

Cows stranded by landslides on the coast north of Kaikoura, New Zealand. Photo: Newshub NZ

Dramatic pictures have emerged of livestock huddled precariously on tiny islands after a deadly 7.8 earthquake struck New Zealand on Sunday night.

In one image, three cows are stranded on a patch of land after the earth collapsed around them.

The two adult cows and calf barely have room to move and face a sharp drop if they are to attempt to scramble to safety.

The cows were stranded near the small coastal town of Kaikoura, about 180 kilometres north of Christchurch.

Cows and sheep stranded by landslides.

Cows and sheep stranded by landslides. Photo: Newshub NZ

Other images show herds of sheep also stranded by the landslides.

When asked whether the cattle would be saved, local police said they were prioritising the safety and wellbeing of people.

"The priority of the police is to make sure all human lives are safe and we still need to account for all of them yet," they said.

"In the meantime it's all hands on deck, and if farmers and emergency services together can get to these cows, they will certainly make an effort to rescue them."

The images depict the scale of destruction caused after the earthquake and several aftershocks ripped through New Zealand's south island. At least two people have died and numerous towns have been cut off.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has estimated the damage could amount to billions of dollars.

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