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article imageNew Zealand to rescue tourists and residents stranded by quake

By Karen Graham     Nov 14, 2016 in World
Kaikoura - About one thousand tourists and hundreds of residents in the isolated coastal town of Kaikoura, New Zealand are awaiting rescue after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake cut off all access to the town.
The magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck the south island just after midnight, leaving two people dead and triggering a small tsunami. It also caused some roads to break in half and rock and mud slides that covered roads.
"From all directions, Kaikoura has essentially been isolated," Air Commodore Darryn Webb, the Acting Commander of New Zealand's Joint Forces," told the Associated Press. "There's a real imperative to support the town because it can't support itself."
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Kaikoura is home to about 2,000 people and is a popular tourist stop for visitors wanting to go whale watching or just take a break and enjoy the beautiful mountain scenery. But the earthquake knocked out the water supply and sewage systems in the town, essentially leaving everyone at risk, reports CTV News.
Webb says the military plans to use four NH90 helicopters, capable of transporting 18 people, beginning on Tuesday to get people out of the town. A naval ship left Auckland on Monday that will be able to pick up hundreds of people if weather conditions allow.. "We're going to get as many people and belongings out as quickly as we can," Webb said.
Weather could play a role in the rescue attempts because the forecast doesn't look all that great and the rescue operation could take several days. Webb added that if necessary, a C-130 military transport could be called in to drop fuel, water, food and other supplies in the town.
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Elsewhere in New Zealand, aftershocks continued, rattling everyone's nerves as many people remembered the devastating earthquake in 2011 that struck Christchurch, killing 185 people.
Prime Minister John Key flew over the destruction in Kaikoura by helicopter, even as aftershocks continued to send clouds of dust into the air. "It's just utter devastation," Key said.
New Zealand, with a population of 4.7 million people, sits on the "Ring of Fire," an arc of seismic faults around the Pacific Ocean where earthquakes are common.
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