Powerful earthquake causes substantial destruction in New Zealand
EarthquakePowerful earthquake causes substantial destruction in New Zealand
A 7.8 magnitude earthquake in New Zealand has killed at least two people and destroyed infrastructure and property. The prime minister said the damage was likely to amount to nearly $1.5 billion. Overnight, aftershocks measuring up to 6.3 magnitude were registered in the area, which in 2011 saw a similar magnitude quake kill 185 people.
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key on Monday said that damage caused by a 7.8 magnitude tremor that struck the country on Sunday could cost New Zealand $1.43 billion.
“It’s hard to believe that the bill is going to be less than a couple of billion,” Key told Radio New Zealand.
The U.S. Geological Survey placed the quake’s epicenter in the South Island’s North Canterbury region, saying it occurred at a depth of 14.3 miles.
The BBC reports that in the hours after seismic event, a 6.3 magnitude aftershock caused severe shaking in Christchurch, where a similar magnitude earthquake killed 185 people in 2011.
Sunday’s quake killed at least two.
The New Zealand authorities said there has been substantial damage to infrastructure and property in some areas.
“I think had there been serious injury or suspected further loss of life then we would have heard about it by now,” said Civil Defense Minister Gerry Brownlee.
“It looks as though it’s the infrastructure that’s the biggest problem, although I don’t want to take away from the suffering … and terrible fright so many people have had,” he told Radio New Zealand.
Prime Minister Key and Brown flew over the areas affected by the quake to assess the damage. Outside of Kaikoura, a popular tourist destination in the worst-hit region, aerial footage showed train tracks ripped up and tossed some ten meters away.
Key said it may take days to assemble a full picture of the damage. “As we have daylight we can use the military assets that we have to make sure we get a stock-take of the overall damage, but I suspect that will take quite some time to fully understand,” the premier said.
The government said it would appoint a senior official to oversee reconstruction in the aftermath of the quake.