Wellington - A series of strong earthquakes hit central New Zealand on Friday afternoon, sending office workers in the capital city Wellington hurrying for home and causing traffic chaos.
GeoNet upgraded the initial earthquake, which struck at 14:31 (0231 GMT) on Friday to magnitude 6.6, after initially reporting it was a 6.9 and then downgrading it to a 6.2. The US Geological Survey put the quake at magnitude 6.5.
It was centred in the Cook Strait between the North and South Islands, about 10km south-east of the small South Island town of Seddon.
The police said there has been severe damage to buildings in Seddon, but no reports of serious injury.
Aftershocks were continuing apace, with a magnitude-5.7 quake recorded at 15:52 and a 5.1 recorded at 17:57.
The quakes have been felt strongly in Wellington, with office workers taking shelter under their desks and then heading for home after the initial shake.
Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said there were no signs of severe damage in the capital, but with train services cancelled until lines could be checked, traffic was "chaos".
Seddon has been the focus of seismic activity since a magnitude-6.5 quake struck the region on July 21.