Quakes rock central New Zealand

Staff at a Wellington radio station took cover under their desks

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Two powerful earthquakes have rocked the New Zealand capital, Wellington, but there were no immediate reports of major damage.

The first quake, with a magnitude of 6.5, struck close to the South Island town of Seddon at 14:31 (02:31 GMT) and was followed by a 5.7 aftershock.

The tremors were felt across central New Zealand, sending workers rushing from buildings in Wellington.

Power cuts were reported and transport services briefly suspended.

The website of the City Council in the capital, Wellington, advised people to be prepared for delays due to heavy traffic on the roads.

Hundreds of people were said to be stranded as rail services were suspended.

A car drives past a crack in a road after an earthquake on the outskirts of the town of Seddon in the Marlborough region, on New Zealand's South Island, 16 August 2013 The tremors were felt in New Zealand's Seddon in South Island

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown described traffic as "chaos", but said there was no indication of severe damage so far.

Major congestion of telecommunications systems was also reported.

"Use texts rather than calling to reduce overloading on phones. Airport open but flights disrupted," a City Council statement said.

Video footage showed goods knocked off shelves. People in the areas affected by the quake reported windows shaking and buildings swaying.

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Efrain Tionko, who recently moved from Australia's city of Melbourne to Wellington, told the BBC he had been in a conference room when the quake struck.

"The quake rocked for an extended period. Some eight of us somehow fit under the conference room table," he said.

"Some water pipes burst somewhere in the building as a result of the quake, so it was quickly decided to evacuate."

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