The damage from the quake that struck New Zealand's second biggest city of Christchurch has been extensive.
But no deaths and only a few injuries were reported. Initial estimates for the cost of earthquake damage have been put at around 1.4 billion US dollars. An estimated 500 buildings were damaged, with more than 90 in the center of the city.
Prime Minister John Key says the Earthquake Commission, a state disaster insurance fund, has sufficient assets to be able to cover claims. Aftershocks, the strongest measuring magnitude 5.1, continued to send loose bricks and masonry crashing into the streets. Winds gusting up to 130 kilometers an hour have also been forecast, raising fears that weakened buildings will be further damaged or collapse.