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Tourists stranded, aftershocks hinder recovery in New Zealand

Reporter: Owen Poland 丨 CCTV.com

11-15-2016 14:41 BJT

New Zealand is starting to count the cost of the magnitude 7.5 earthquake that rocked the upper part of South Island early on Monday. More than 1,000 tourists are stranded in a small town without power or sewage. The official death toll still stands at two people. The economic cost is expected to run into the billions of dollars because of the structural damage to road and rail links.

Stranded on a tiny island in a broken landscape, these cattle are symbolic of the earthquake devastation in New Zealand's upper South Island.

Amazingly, only two people have died despite the many dozens of homes and buildings that were destroyed by one of the biggest quakes in New Zealand history that's left hundreds homeless.

"Some very short-term practical issues that need to be resolved, making sure that we're getting more water, food and ultimately people are here to support the nearly 600 people at the welfare centre because the road access points here are blocked off. The only way through is flying people in and out," said New Zealand prime minister John Key.

Major road and rail links have been swept away by massive coastal slips which will take months to clear and cost billions of dollars to repair or replace.

The upper South Island is a popular tourist area, and many visitors found themselves stuck with nowhere to go.

The most urgent problem is the evacuation of around twelve hundred tourists trapped in the small whale-watching town of Kaikoura which has been cut off by slips.

With power and sewerage cut off and drinking water in short supply, there's a real risk of health problems. A Navy ship is expected in the area tomorrow to help evacuate stranded tourists and military helicopters are also being used to get people out.

John Key said, "There's quite a number of tourists now stuck with international connections, so we'll have to think about that. there's also the longevity of the businesses here that aren't going to get a lot of custom."

With more than 800 aftershocks recorded since the first big quake on Monday, worried residents in the upper South Island are living on a knife edge hoping that the worst is over.

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