A major relief effort is underway after a 7.5 magnitude earthquake in Kaikoura, New Zealand, destroyed vital infrastructure.
Key road and rail routes were hit by the earthquake, which caused major landslide blockages and rock falls, including on the Christchurch to Kaikoura route.
Photos taken during the aerial surveys by Royal New Zealand Air Force aircraft show massive rockfalls in several areas in the upper South Island.
“It is clear from the photos taken by our personnel that the major route from Christchurch to Kaikoura is impassable. So is the road from Kaikoura to Hanmer Springs and the one from Blenheim to Kaikoura,” said New Zealand Joint Forces acting commander, air commodore Darryn Webb.
New Zealand Defence Force earthquake photo
Source: New Zealand Defence Force
Government agencies are providing water, food and fuel via boat and helicopter where routes are blocked, and people are being evacuated from the worst hit areas. Ships deployed include HMNZS Canterbury and HMNZS Wellington. Landslide specialists are gathering information about land stability.
The Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management (MCDEM) has now cancelled a tsunami warning, although a state of emergency remains in Kaikoura.
The earthquake occurred on Monday 14 November at around midnight (local time), 15km northeast of Culverden in the South Island, at a depth of 15km.
Following the initial earthquake, there were several severe earthquakes in the Seddon and Kaikoura region. Earthquakes have also been felt in Wellington. Early indications suggest that the quakes originated from the Hope Fault.