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Update: earthquake causes two deaths, damage across New Zealand

Damage to State Highway 1 at Kaikoura, near the quake's epicentre, on the east coast of the South Island

Update: earthquake causes two deaths, damage across New Zealand

Two die; power, phones out; damage across NZ in massive earthquake overnight

Update: earthquake causes two deaths, damage across New Zealand

The tsunami warning across much of New Zealand has been lifted following today’s 7.6-strength earthquake, which has claimed two lives.

Here is an update from regions around the country:

CHRISTCHURCH

One person died at a property at Mt Lyford, north of Christchurch, from a heart attack believed to be caused by the earthquake. Several other non-fatal heart attacks have been reported.

Police have prevented motorists from entering the seaside suburb of Sumner. The low-lying suburb is deserted, with residents having evacuated and schools closed for the day.

Three evacuation centres have been opened in Christchurch and Banks Peninsula following the earthquake. They are at Linwood College and Mairehau High School in Christchurch and Akaroa School Hall on Banks Peninsula.

Police and Civil Defence have closed the Lyttelton Tunnel (State Highway 74), which links Christchurch with its port. The tunnel has been closed temporarily for checks following previous large earthquakes.

After tsunami sirens started sounding along Christchurch’s coastline at 2.14am, a significant amount of traffic headed away from New Brighton and other coastal suburbs towards central Christchurch and the Port Hills.

In the CBD, hotels and occupied buildings were evacuated as aftershocks were continuing to hit about every 10 minutes.

KAIKOURA AND AROUND

One person is missing as firefighters continue to search through the rubble of a historic homestead. Another person was found alive.

People have reportedly been injured in Culverden and Kaikoura.

Kaikoura was continuing to shake two hours after the initial earthquake which saw hundreds of people evacuate their houses to the safety of higher ground following the quake and tsunami warning.

Streets were lined with cars and Kaikoura’s lookout was packed with locals and tourists.

Power lines were down across the district. Roads, including the famous State Highway 1 that runs along the dramatic coast from Picton to Christchurch and beyond, have been damaged.

HANMER SPRINGS AND AROUND

Locals are trying to get into the town of Waiau to check on family and friends left isolated.

Waiau, on State Highway 70, is only a few kilometres east of the original quake’s epicentre.

Christchurch student April Clarke spent the early hours trying to get in touch with friends in the town. “There are six people in Waiau nobody can get a hold of,” she said.

Corey O’Donnell tried driving to Waiau, but parts of the road appeared to be impassable. Fallen farm buildings are scattered along the road, and power and phone services were down.

State Highway 7 was closed between Waipara and Springs Junction. There were reports of damaged bridges and buildings.

Civil Defence has advised all evacuated coastal towns in the district are to remain closed until further notice.

Residents on rural water schemes have been asked to conserve water, and continue to boil water as a precautionary measure.

MARLBOROUGH AND NELSON

Around 2000 people are without power in Marlborough. Because of the reports of damaged houses in Seddon, the lines company was hesitant to switch power back on remotely.

State Highway 1 is closed at Ward with damage reported at the Ure Bridge. A road block is in place just north of Blenheim and people are being urged to keep off the road.

Bridges at Spring Creek and near Tuamarina are also closed.

There is some damage in central Blenheim, with shop windows broken. There were unconfirmed reports of looting.

WEST COAST

State Highway 7 was closed between Springs junction and Hanmer Springs. Power is out between Granity and Meybille Bay, north of Punakaiki.

HAWKE’S BAY AND GISBORNE

Hundreds of people in low-lying areas in Hawke’s Bay and the Gisborne-East Coast evacuated following the quake.

The tsunami threat was reduced to beach and marine only at 6am and residents were cleared to go home but told they must stay of the beaches.

While the quake was widely felt, there were no reports of damage in Hawke’s Bay or Gisborne.

MANAWATU, WHANGANUI AND TARARUA

Residents in coastal areas were evacuated following the tsunami warning. They have been told they can return home but are asked to remain on alert.

Power outages continued and aftershocks are expected to continue throughout the day.

These could trigger more tsunami warnings.

Train services on the main trunk line south of Palmerston North have been suspended until further notice.

WAIKATO AND BAY OF PLENTY

The tsunami warning for Waikato and Bay of Plenty has been lowered to a marine and beach threat, but Civil Defence are warning that could change. Residents are being asked to stay off the beaches and away from waterways.

TARANAKI

Thousands of people are without electricity in New Plymouth, Stratford, Eltham and Hawera. Many residents have taken to Facebook to say they were woken and scared by the quake and that aftershocks are still being felt.

AUCKLAND

The quake was felt in Auckland, including at Middlemore Hospital, where patients were sent running from their beds.

Auckland Civil Defence Emergency Management controller John Dragicevich said there was no immediate tsunami threat to Auckland but there was still a standard warning in place for people near marine areas.

That including keeping an eye out for changes in the sea and moving to higher ground if necessary.

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