Re­lieved tourists es­cape NZ quake town

The Sun (Malaysia) - - NEWS WITHOUT BORDERS -

WELLINGTON: Res­cuers in New Zealand yes­ter­day com­pleted a mass evacuation of tourists stranded af­ter a dev­as­tat­ing earth­quake, as of­fi­cials in the cap­i­tal Wellington sealed off dozens of po­ten­tially dan­ger­ous of­fice blocks.

The last of the trapped hol­i­day­mak­ers boarded the navy ship HMNZS Can­ter­bury yes­ter­day at Kaik­oura, the South Is­land sea­side town that bore the brunt of the pow­er­ful 7.8 tremor.

“We got them all out, it was a su­per­hu­man ef­fort,” Red Cross spokesman Si­mon Makker said from the stricken town.

“The last of them were cheer­ing and danc­ing down the street on their way out. It was pretty cool.”

Ves­sels from the US, Canada and Aus­tralia are also steam­ing to­ward the town to pro­vide emer­gency sup­plies and lo­gis­ti­cal sup­port.

At the time of the quake, Kaik­oura’s pop­u­la­tion of 2,000 was bol­stered by about 1,000 tourists, at­tracted by its renowned whale-watch­ing cruises.

They were stranded when the tremor, which claimed two lives, sev­ered road and rail ac­cess, leav­ing the town short of wa­ter and with lit­tle power.

Makker said most of the vis­i­tors were air­lifted out by mil­i­tary he­li­copters.

“There might still be a few strag­glers left, but the fo­cus now turns to the wel­fare of the res­i­dents,” he said.

The tremor was felt across the coun­try, caus­ing vi­o­lent shak­ing in Wellington about 250km away.

The cap­i­tal was ini­tially thought to have es­caped se­ri­ous dam­age but the lo­cal coun­cil said yes­ter­day that en­gi­neer­ing in­spec­tors had raised con­cerns about some 60 down­town build­ings. – AFP

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