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New Zealand Earthquake Update

New Zealand experienced a severe 7.5 magnitude earthquake centred near Hanmer Springs in the South Island's North Canterbury region overnight. The quake was felt widely, with damage extending as far north as Wellington City in the North Island - especially in the CBD and near the waterfront.

So far, two fatalaties have been confirmed.  There has been significant damage to housing and infrastructure in areas closest to the epicentre, especially around the coastal area of Kaikoura. Some areas are impassable, with slips, large cracks in roads, and damage to railways, bridges and water pipes. The Wellington CBD is largely closed today as assessments and cleanups of broken glass and other damage are underway.

People in low-lying areas were evacuated overnight because of a tsunami warning. This has since been downgraded to a coastal watch warning, meaning evacuated people are now able to return home. However, people are being warned to stay away from east coast beach areas from Dunedin in the South Island up to Napier in the North Island.

Salvation Army divisional leaders Majors Ivan and Glenda Bezzant will be visiting the affected area of Blenheim today, where there are still large aftershocks occurring.

The Salvation Army is on standby to provide assistance around affected areas as required.