A bout that used to be on the edge of the road sits in the harbour where the land fell into the sea at the Port Wellington Container terminal caused by an earthquake on July 21, 2013. (Marty Melville/AFP/Getty Images)
New Zealand's capital city, Wellington, was rattled by a strong magnitude 6.5 earthquake on Sunday that broke water mains, smashed windows and downed power lines.
Wellington Police Inspector Marty Parker said there was minor structural damage that left parts of the city temporarily without power.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake struck under the Cook Strait 54 kilometers (34 miles) south-southwest of Wellington. It was a relatively shallow quake, estimated to have occurred just 14 kilometers (8.7 miles) underground.
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Across the Cook Strait from Wellington, 3 News reported "serious" damage in the South Island town of Seddon, the closest town to the quake's underwater epicenter. Most of the damage was to the contents inside homes, with only "minor" structural damage, the broadcaster reported.
The New Zealand Herald reports that the Wellington area passenger rail system was closed for inspections, and citizens were warned to avoid the central business district Monday as buildings and infrastructure continued to be inspected for damage.
The Dominion Post reported rail services had resumed Monday afternoon (New Zealand time) and state highways were in good shape, but people were urged to stay away from the city's CBD until Tuesday. The newspaper said the city's major museums and galleries suffered very little damage.
The quake could be felt hundreds of kilometers away in the center of New Zealand's North Island.
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The quake struck at 5:09 p.m. local time Sunday, near nightfall. New Zealand, in the Southern Hemisphere, is in the middle of its winter season. Parker said a more complete picture of the damage would emerge in the morning.
The Sunday evening tremor was part of an earthquake swarm that has been ongoing for several days. A magnitude-5.3 tremor struck early Friday (New Zealand time) in the same area, and a magnitude-5.8 shock occurred 10 hours before the 6.5 quake.
There have also been numerous earthquakes in the area since Sunday evening's quake, including at least eight of 4.5 magnitude or greater as of late Monday local time.
New Zealand is part of the so-called Pacific "Ring of Fire" that receives regular seismic activity. A severe earthquake in the city of Christchurch in 2011 killed 185 people and destroyed much of the city's downtown.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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