Magnitude 6.2 aftershock shakes New Zealand after powerful 7.8 earthquake kills at least 2

An earthquake measuring 6.3 in magnitude has hit New Zealand’s South Island, hours after an initial quake killed two people.

The new tremor struck at 13:45 local time (00:45 GMT) at a depth of 10km (6 miles), northeast of Christchurch.

A powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake, with the same depth, pummeled central New Zealand early on Monday, killing at least two people, damaging roads and buildings and setting off hundreds of strong aftershocks.

GeoNet, a government-funded project monitoring earthquakes, said the first earthquake was actually two related tremors, and that aftershocks would continue over the next few months.

Some small towns on the South Island, including Kaikoura, were left isolated by damages caused by the first quake, reports the New Zealand Herald. That magnitude-7.5 earthquake had seen roads to Kaikoura blocked and electricity supply in the area disrupted, according to the Herald, and mobile network congestion has made substantiating the exact extent of damage more difficult.

The devastating cost of the New Zealand earthquakes that rocked the country could cost “billions”, according to the Prime Minister John Key.

New Zealand’s Ministry of Civil Defense announced Monday that a search and rescue team had been dispatched to Kaikoura, with more rescuers on standby. It also warned that there could be even more “significant” aftershocks in the days ahead.

After surveying some of the damage from the 7.8-magnitude earthquake and the subsequent tremors that hit, Key has indicated that it will cost them “a couple of billion dollars”, according to Radio New Zealand on Monday.

“It’s hard to believe that the bill is going to be less than a couple of billion,” he told Radio New Zealand, according to their Twitter account.

In Wellington, 214 kilometers north of the quake’s epicenter, people were urged not to travel into the city as train and ferry services were suspended and some roads could be blocked. However, the city’s airport remained open following an inspection of the runway.

New Zealand is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, an arc of volcanoes and fault lines encircling the Pacific Ocean prone to seismic upheaval. In 2011, a 6.3-magnitude quake killed 185 people in Christchurch—most because of building failures—triggering a nationwide clampdown on unsafe properties.