Hundreds of aftershocks – the strongest being of a 6.2 magnitude – have continued to rattle New Zealand after the powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake that has so far seen the loss of at least two lives. The quake hit the South Island in the early hours of Monday (14 November) local time, damaging buildings, opening up huge cracks in roads and sparking landslides.

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Landslides block State Highway One near Kaikoura on the upper east coast of New Zealand's South Island following an earthquake in the early hours of 13 November 2016 local time.Sgt Sam Shepherd/Royal New Zealand Defence Force/Reuters
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A railway line is damaged by an earthquake near Tirohanga stream south of Blenheim on the South Island of New ZealandAnthony Phelps/Reuters
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A four-wheel-drive vehicle negotiates the damaged State Highway One near the town of Ward, south of Blenheim, following an earthquake on New Zealand's South IslandAntony Phelps/Reuters
Witnesses of New Zealand Earthquake: "It was horrible" Reuters

Buildings were damaged in Wellington, the capital, more than 120 miles to the north. There were concerns that loose glass and masonry could be dislodged by severe weather hitting the capital, with 85mph winds forecast.

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People wait in Te Aro Park after being evacuated from nearby buildings in WellingtonHagen Hopkins/Getty
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Amora Hotel guests gather in a car park after an earthquake in WellingtonHagen Hopkins/Getty
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Members of the public inspect the damage to the road on the Wellington waterfrontMarty Melville/AFP
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A mannequin in a Farmers department store in Wellington lies on the groundHagen Hopkins/Getty

The tremor was strongly felt to the south in the city of Christchurch, which was devastated by an earthquake in 2011 that killed 185 people. Residents said the shaking went on for about three minutes.

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The Waiau Lodge Hotel in Waiau, 75 miles north of Christchurch, shows damage in the aftermath of a 7.5 magnitude earthquake in Waiau, New ZealandMatias Delacroix/Getty
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The Waiau Lodge Hotel shows damage in the aftermath of a 7.5 magnitude earthquake in Waiau, New ZealandMatias Delacroix/Getty

Police said one person died in the small coastal town of Kaikoura, a popular spot for whale watching, and another in Mt Lyford, a nearby ski resort. Several other people had reportedly suffered minor injuries in Kaikoura, police spokeswoman Rachel Purdom said.

Prime Minister John Key flew over the destruction in Kaikoura by helicopter. Cars could be seen lying on their sides, and parts of the road were clearly impassable. "It's just utter devastation. ... That's months of work," Key told acting Civil Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee as they hovered above the damage.

Key later toured the Kaikoura area and met with local people. He estimated the clean-up effort would run into billions of dollars and added that clearing the debris and blocked roads could take months.

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Policemen and locals look at damage following an earthquake, along State Highway One near the town of Ward, south of Blenheim on New Zealand's South IslandAntony Phelps/Reuters
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A railway track lies damaged alongside State Highway One near Kaikoura on the upper east coast of New Zealand's South Island following an earthquakeSgt Sam Shepherd/Royal New Zealand Defence Force/Reuters
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Landslides block State Highway One near Kaikoura on the upper east coast of New Zealand's South Island following an earthquakeSgt Sam Shepherd/Royal New Zealand Defence Force/Reuters
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Aerial photo shows a freight train stranded by landslides near Kaikoura on the South Island's east coastMark Mitchell/AFP
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Dust created by a strong aftershock hangs above the Clarence River, which was blocked causing a huge dam north of Kaikoura in New ZealandMark Mitchell/Getty

Power and telecommunications lines are down, with land slips and other damage to infrastructure making it hard to reach the worst-affected areas.