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Major disruptions expected after severe quake

Published: 7:31AM Sunday July 21, 2013 Source: ONE News

There are overnight cordons in place in the Wellington CBD after a magnitude 6.5 earthquake shook central New Zealand.

The quake, that rumbled for more than a minute, struck at 5.09pm on Sunday, east of Seddon.

Wellington's emergency offices have been activated and Urban Search and Rescue is on standby.

Wellington Region Civil Defence Controller, Bruce Pepperell said there will be no 'rush-hour' services to allow engineers to check bridges and other infrastructure in daylight. There will be no bus replacement service either.

Mr Pepperell said there have been reports of structural damage to a number of buildings around Wellington City and emergency services and local authorities are continuing to check buildings and infrastructure.

"At the moment we have had only one report of an injury around the region."

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Wellington Electricity says power is now back for the 5000 customers in the Wellington suburb of Karori.

But around 400 households in Wainui are still without power as lines are down.

Geonet reported a "severe" earthquake centered 20 kilometres east of Seddon, at a depth of 19km at 5.09pm but Civil Defence says there is no risk of a tsunami.

The region's rail network is closed while checks are done on bridges, tunnels and other structures and there have been some reports of damage to CentrePort.

Police have closed sections of Featherston Street, Wakefield Street and Bolton Street in the CBD and may close other streets if they are deemed hazardous.

The Fire Service is dealing with broken water pipes and stuck lifts, Wellington City Council says.

Wellington Airport was closed for three and half hours after the quake. It is now working to clear its backlog.

Political Editor Corin Dann says there has been some damage inside Parliament with cracking on the walls and plaster falling off.

Containers have been pushed off the wharf and some buildings in Wellington's CBD have been evacuated.

The earthquake has been felt as far north as Auckland.

ONE News reporter Jessica McCarthy survived the Christchurch earthquake in 2011 and told that this evening's 6.5 magnitude quake "felt as bad as the Christchurch earthquake."

"It's scary.. there's not a lot of damage but it was terrifying."

Reported closures

Massey University is closed.

ACC branches in Wellington, Hutt Valley and the head office in the Justice Centre are closed.

Wellington City Council's Civic Square office buildings are closed until assements are completed.

All Whitireia campuses in Wellington City are closed

And since 5.09pm this evening, Geonet has reported three "severe" earthquakes and six "strong" earthquakes on their website.

Previous quakes

This morning, people in central New Zealand were shaken awake by the severe quake at 7.17am, which struck 30 kilometres east of Seddon at a depth of 19km.

More than 5000 people reported experiencing the earthquake on GeoNet, with felt reports stretching from the bottom of the South Island to as far north as Auckland.

A series of aftershocks have continued to hit the same spot, which lies below Cook Strait, including strong 4.8 and 4.9 events.

Wellington resident Jenny Nelson said she experienced a slow rocking, rather than a sudden jolt.

"Almost pleasant: got woken up by a very steady rocking of the bed," Ms Nelson said on Facebook.

Manawatu Resident Marguerite Merritt described the shaking as small, with nothing falling off shelves in her home.

"It started fairly quietly, then when I thought it had stopped, it started again and lasted a few seconds."

Dr Anna Kaiser, Geonet's duty seismologist said there was a smiliar swarm of quakes in the region in 2005.

But how long these quakes will continue for or if the big one's yet to come is still unknown.

Civil Defence have said the 5.8 earthquake was not of significant enough magnitude to cause a tsunami.

No major incidents have been reported as a result of the shake.

Train services in Wellington are running again after being temporarily suspended while lines were checked for damage.

Today's earthquakes follow another series that struck the area on Friday, the biggest a 5.7 at a depth of 16km.

TV ONE's Breakfast will have Corin Dann live from Wellington and will be speaking to Prime Minister John Key, Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown and Senior Lecturer in Tectonics, Dr. Mark Quigley.