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Monday, November 14, 2016, 15:40

6 Chinese tourists airlifted out of quake-hit NZ town

By Xinhua

6 Chinese tourists airlifted out of quake-hit NZ town
A photo taken on Nov 14, 2016 shows a freight train trapped by landslides near Kaikoura town on the South Island's east coast. A powerful 7.8-magnitude earthquake killed two people and caused massive infrastructure damage in New Zealand. (Photo / AFP)

KAIKOURA, New Zealand – Six Chinese tourists were airlifted from the worst-hit town of Kaikoura to Christchurch in the first batch after a deadly quake rocked much of New Zealand early Monday.

Staff with the Chinese consulate general in Christchurch, the country's second largest city, told Xinhua that total 21 Chinese tourists, including one slightly injured in the head, were found trapped in Kaikoura so far.

Total 21 Chinese tourists were trapped in worst-hit town of Kaikoura after earthquake struck New Zealand

"They are all safe now."

The six evacuees are three pairs of mother and child and the youngest kid is five years old. They have arrived at Christchurch at around 3 pm local time, said Consul General Jin Zhijian.

"The injured, who has received proper medical treatment, is doing well," he said.

A 7.5-magnitude quake hit just after midnight Monday, leaving at least two dead.

Some 1,200 tourists were reported stuck in Kaikoura, a popular tourist destination famed for its coastal scenery and whale-watching activities, which is some 100 km away from the epicenter.

The quake-triggered landslides have left the town isolated. Helicopters are now the only means of transportation available for the outside world with the small town.

The Chinese tourists posted their plight on social media and called for help before their smart phones ran off power.

With the information, the consulate general staff, who flied to the town soon after the quake with food and other relief goods, found them later.

"It's a great relief to see they are safe and mostly are doing well. We are trying to get more helicopters to take the rest of them back to Christchurch. Hopefully, this can be done today," said Jin.

The tourists spent a horrified night on their coach. They also received assistance from local government later to stay with locals at schools or hospitals.

The quake was centered 15 km northeast of Culverden, on the east of the South Island, and struck at 12:02 am on Monday, according to the government's GeoNet monitoring service.

It is being followed by many aftershocks, the largest of them a magnitude of 6.2.

A tsunami warning was lifted later Monday afternoon.

New Zealand is frequently rattled by earthquakes, most of which do no damage and cause no injuries, but Monday's tremor brought back memories of the 6.3-magnitude quake that killed 185 people in Christchurch in February 2011.

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