New Zealand was hit by a powerful earthquake early Monday—one more than fifty times bigger than the 2011 Christchurch quake, according to catastrophe modeler RMS.
The magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck at 12:02 a.m. local time, causing a tsunami, liquefaction and thousands of landslides, some of which blocked streams and rivers. Seismic activity is still continuing, RMS said, with at least 25 tremors exceeding magnitude 5 since the initial earthquake. Two people are confirmed dead, and there was significant damage to infrastructure. The tourist town of Kaikoura was cut off from the rest of the island without power, water, phone lines or sewerage.
This is the most damaging earthquake in mainland New Zealand since 2011, when a magnitude 6.3 quake hit Christchurch, killing 185 people and damaging about 100,000 buildings, the catastrophe modeler noted.
Train and ferry services across much of the country are suspended while damage is inspected and many roads are closed or impassable.