Quakes shake central New Zealand, damaging homes

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 16, 2013 at 8:12 am •  Published: August 16, 2013
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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Strong earthquakes shook central New Zealand on Friday, damaging homes and roads and sending office workers scrambling for cover in the capital. No serious injuries were reported.

A magnitude-6.5 temblor struck just after 2:30 p.m. near the small South Island town of Seddon, and at least six aftershocks were 5.0 magnitude or stronger.

Several homes near the epicenter were severely damaged, with chimneys collapsing and roofs caving in, said police spokeswoman Barbara Dunn. She said a bridge was severely damaged on the main highway near Seddon, and that rocks and debris had fallen onto the road. Police closed a section of the highway.

Some buildings in Wellington, the capital, were evacuated, and items were knocked off shelves in places.

Police said a number of people were freed from Wellington elevators that stopped working. The initial temblor also forced the nation's stock exchange to close for more than an hour.

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said there was no major damage to the city's infrastructure or office buildings. She said highways had become clogged as people left the city.

"We think this is business as usual," she said, "but it is going to take a little while for people to get home tonight."