Dozens of aftershocks have rattled central New Zealand overnight following yesterday's 6.6 quake, as Wellington gets back to business.
Some buildings sustained minor damage but there have been no reports of major structural damage so far, according to the Wellington Region Emergency Management Office.
All power and water throughout the region has been restored, after outages following the shake.
All roads are open and bus services are operating. Trains have resumed normal services, and the Interislander ferries are operating as normal. Wellington Airport is open.
Telecommunications network congestion has eased, but the emergency management office still asks people to remember to text rather than call if significant aftershocks occur.
There have been no reports of significant structural damage. Inspections will continue throughout the weekend.
Chews Lane is closed due to minor debris, while parts of the Bolton St footpath at the Terrace are closed due to broken glass.
Some other pedestrian areas in the CBD may be cordoned off due to broken glass. Council asks that pedestrians respect cordons and exercise care.
Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said the city was open for business.
Lukes Lane remained cordoned off pending the demolition of a lift shaft, which sustained damage in the July quake.
Some lift machinery would be removed today, but the bulk of the work would have to wait till a big crane arrived from Christchurch, she said.
''We need something that is capable of lifting a 30-tonne slab of concrete.''
Council engineers had checked out civic building and bridges, while some private building inspections were ongoing.
Ms Wade-Brown praised the reaction to yesterday's jolt, which saw strangers helping each other to get home with roads at a complete standstill.
''It was the spirit of a resilient city.''
Westpac Stadium chief executive Shane Harmon said the facility's carpark had been inspected and was structurally sound.
While there were no obvious signs of damage, the stadium itself would be checked by engineers on Monday.
''It's purely a precautionary thing. We're not anticipating any problems but public safety is our No 1 priority.''
An information centre for affected residents would be open at Wellington City Council, 101 Wakefield St, from 10am till 4pm for the next few days.
POLICE RAMP UP PATROLS
Extra police patrols are on the street in Wellington after the shake.
''It will be another anxious time for the community while we ride out this string of quakes. Police are providing extra patrols on the city streets tonight to ensure community safety,'' Wellington district commander Superintendent Sue Schwalger said.
''As with the previous series of earthquakes, police anticipate a decrease in calls for service as most people have left the city. The extra patrols provide a greater visible police presence so that the community can feel safe and assured that Police can respond to any emergency''.
Traffic was now back to normal, after blockages caused by people trying to leave the city last night.
THE QUAKE ESCAPE
Thousands of quake-rattled Wellingtonians fled the city, choking roads, as the tremor and a swarm of aftershocks rocked the capital.
The 6.6 shake at 2.31pm was centred near the Marlborough town of Seddon, not far from last month's 6.5 shake. Yesterday's shake caused more damage to homes, but no lives were lost and injuries were few.
Twenty-two people had registered to stay at the welfare centre at Seddon School last night.
Seismologists have warned the aftershocks will keep coming.
GNS Science duty seismologist Anna Kaiser said the 6.6 tremor was centred 30 kilometres southwest of the July 21 one.
City workers spilled on to Wellington streets after buildings were evacuated yesterday afternoon or employers told staff to go home.
One Wellington woman said she was afraid she would die during the tremors while another simply sat trembling on the pavement.
Roads around the CBD and state highways quickly became clogged with people trying to make their way home, with some even deciding to walk along the highway to avoid the traffic.
Passing motorists were stopped by police and told to pack in a few of the thousands of commuters stranded at Wellington railway station after all trains were cancelled.
Senior Sergeant Bruce Johnston had been helping people find rides home from the station since before 3pm. "People are naturally pretty great and willing to help. We're still waiting on buses to places like Waikanae," he said.
"Kapiti Coast and people who get the Capital Connection are the hardest to find rides for."
However, many opted to wait out the clogged roads or bus queues with a drink at the pub.
City workers sitting in the outdoor area of the GP pub nursed beers as they checked their phones, many waiting for rides that were a long time coming.
Administrator Lynne Shaw, who was standing in Boulcott St waiting for her husband to pick her up, said her colleagues had gone for a drink until the traffic settled down.
"We live in Raumati South, so there's no other way to get home, unless I walk up the gorge."
Some streets were cordoned off last night because of damage, including Lukes Lane, where emergency work was under way to secure or even demolish an unstable lift shaft damaged for the second time in as many months.
There were some reports of more substantial damage to other CBD buildings but yesterday afternoon Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said there did not appear to be any significant damage from the shake.
Civil Defence controller Bruce Pepperell said reports of damage were minimal. "There has been the occasional fire, a little tiny bit of facade damage but nothing much to speak of. The big damage is in people's confidence at this stage."
GNS scientist Kelvin Berryman said yesterday's earthquake swarm appeared to be a "rejuvenation" of the area shaken last month.
"You can anticipate pretty meaty aftershocks with a quake of that strength, so it's not such a surprise that we've had so many since."
The quakes also triggered a small cluster of earthquakes in Levin, Taihape, South Taranaki and closer to Wellington.
Wellington Airport remained open after a routine check of the runway, though there was some disruption to flights, with one delayed just as it was preparing to take off.
"[We] didn't realise for at least about 15 seconds until people started screaming," passenger Andrew Holliday said.
About 7500 customers also lost power in Kapiti, Wainuiomata and parts of Wellington City but all had been reconnected by 5pm.
Water supply was not disrupted but there were at least 11 gas-related callouts.
Phone lines quickly became jammed after the first quake, though emergency calls were reported to be unaffected. Fire service crews were scrambling to calls last night but most were alarms set off by the quakes.
Downtown Community Ministry sits in the shadow of the unstable shaft in Lukes Lane and director Stephanie McIntyre said she told all staff to go home yesterday afternoon.
But the charity's annual book fair this weekend would go ahead as planned.
"Come Monday we'll look at where we're at, but we're ready to rock and roll. [The last earthquake] showed we could do it remotely."
Paraparaumu's Liquor King lost about $20,000 worth of stock in last month's earthquake, and had another big cleanup job ahead of it this weekend.
"It started pretty small and then it started shaking a lot worse and I just decided to sprint for it, just ran outside," said duty manager Matthew Williams.
The race meeting scheduled for Trentham Racecourse today was abandoned as a precaution.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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