7.8 magnitude earthquake shakes New Zealand - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

7.8 magnitude earthquake shakes New Zealand

7.8 magnitude earthquake shakes New Zealand

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KAIKOURA, NEW ZEALAND - New Zealand Prime Minister John Key toured the area impacted by a powerful earthquake that triggered a small tsunami. The 7.8 magnitude quake struck the south island Monday morning in a mostly rural area that's dotted with small towns.

Key said damage to the main highway had completely cut off the town of Kaikoura by road and would likely cost billions of dollars to repair.

Key says, "So some very short-term practical issues that need to be resolved: making sure that we get more water, food and ultimately people here to support that nearly 600 people that are at the welfare center because the road access points here are blocked off, the only way through is flying people in and out, there's quite a number of tourists now who are ultimately stuck with international connections, so we'll have to think about that."

Strong aftershocks continued to shake the country Monday, rattling the nerves of exhausted residents, many of whom had spent a sleepless night huddled outside after fleeing for higher ground to avoid the tsunami waves.