The main road between Christchurch and Blenheim has reopened after yesterday's 6.6 earthquake opened up large cracks in the ground between Seddon and Ward, but motorists are being warned care is still needed.
Dozens of aftershocks have continued to rattle the top of the South Island and the Wellington region since yesterday's biggest quake, which hit at 2.31pm, damaging houses in Seddon and Ward, and sending people fleeing Wellington city.
The 20 kilometre stretch of road between Seddon and Ward had also been hit by 500 cubic metres of earth that fell from banks above the road during the shaking.
NZTA highways manager Frank Porter said contractors put in a ''heroic'' effort to restore the highway after yesterday's earthquake opened up several large cracks.
Engineers had inspected all bridges and decided they were safe. The problem was with approaches to the bridges, and any slumps were being filled in.
Further roadworks would be needed to patch up the the highway, with delays likely, Porter said.
The rail line between Picton and Kaikoura has been closed while track and tunnels were checked. A Civil Defence spokeswoman said the line was expected to remain closed until at least tomorrow.
A Marlborough District Council spokeswoman said the road between Blenheim and Seddon near the epicentre of quakes was open but drivers should take care.
Fire crews were waterproofing damaged houses using tarpaulins, Civil Defence said.
Water supply has been cut to several residential properties in the Grassmere and Blind River Rd areas and significant repairs would be required. Parts of Ward were also with out water.
Only 10 houses were still without power out of the 6900 cut off in Marlborough yesterday.
Marlborough Lines managing director Ken Forrest said six zone sub-stations switched off immediately after the magnitude 6.6 quake. This was what they were designed to do during quakes, for safety reasons.
Staff then checked and progressively restored supply.
Earthquake Minister Gerry Brownlee and Civil Defence Minister Nikki Kaye have arrived at Seddon School to reassure people who'd fled quake damaged homes yesterday.
Brownlee said they wanted to hear from residents about anything they could do to help them through this time.
"I have a fair idea what you are going through, and how you are feeling," he said.
He encouraged anyone whose homes had been affected by the quakes to call 0800 damage (0800 326 243) or make a claim with EQC.
"They will be here on Monday to get things moving as quickly as possible."
Mayor Alistair Sowman also visited the welfare centre. He said council staff were trying to determine which houses were the issues were the highest priority.
"There are a lot of issues with road damage and the structural damage to houses is much worse this time."
Sowman said there were a number of council staff, tradesmen ready to begin work on the highest priority homes.
About 20 people spent the night at the school, including David and Leane Dredge who left their Carkeek St home immediately after yesterday's 6.6 quake.
"We slept in here [welfare centre] last night, the response this time from Red Cross and emergency services has been fantastic, they've been tremendous," Dave Dredge said.
He said yesterday's tremor swarm was much worse than the July quakes.
"It was unbelievable, the biggest problem was getting out of the house, but once we got out...the aftershocks; to watch them come through like a wave coming up the beach was unbelievable...we were just awestruck."
Wairau Hospital, in Blenheim, has treated five people for earthquake-related injuries.
A 62-year-old woman was admitted to hospital with a broken back. She had been out to check on her two neighbours after the initial earthquake and on her return slipped on water from her hot water cylinder that had spilt on to tiles when it ruptured during the earthquake.
A spokeswoman said she was in a stable condition. She was expected to be in hospital for two or three days.
SHAKEN CHRISTCHURCH EX-PATS DETERMINED TO STAY IN SEDDEN
Edith and Ian McGhee moved to Seddon to escape the earthquakes in Christchurch and after today's shake are feeling like they've "been there, done that".
"These one's were as bad as Christchurch as far as we're concerned," Ian McGhee said.
"The severity was the same," Edith McGhee added. "I was trying to get outside and the walls and everything were
disappearing around me; it usually takes me three seconds to get outside but today it was a bit longer."
The couple heard a big crack, and discovered it was the house below theirs.
Vineyard workers lived in the house but were not home during the quake, they said. It had been cordoned off with red tape.
The McGhees decided to spend the night at the welfare centre at Seddon School, but said they would not be leaving Seddon.
"It's the community, and the people, but where we are we've got a good house with a big section."
They said they felt safer being in a big open space.
The couple had lost the chimney of their Seymour St house in the first quake in July.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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