WELLINGTON, Aug. 16 (Xinhua) -- The working week ended early for many in the New Zealand capital Friday when a series of powerful earthquakes triggered an exodus from the city center.
The panic began when the first and strongest tremor, a magnitude 6.6 quake, struck at 2:31 p.m., which rated in intensity as "severe," according to the government's GeoNet monitoring service.
The quake was earlier reported at magnitude 6.2, but GeoNet later updated the measurement.
It was centered 10 km southeast of Seddon, in the far north of the South Island, at a depth of 8 km.
Seven severe and three strong aftershocks, measuring from magnitude 4.2 to magnitude 5.8, followed over the next hour, along with many lesser tremors, all centered in the same vicinity.
Police and fire services said no injuries were reported, although a number of incidents involving broken glass had been reported.
One of the main highways out of Wellington was blocked by a rockfall and train services were suspended.
With cellphone coverage temporarily lost, many workers took to the roads to get home to their families, causing gridlock in some areas.
Inspector Pete Cowan, of Wellington district police, urged people to be patient.
"There is significant traffic on city center roads and many people walking home and we ask people to take extra care," Cowan said in a statement.
The Wellington Region Emergency Management Office said it had received no reports of major structural damage.
Police in the South Island said slips had closed a state highway south of the town of Blenheim and homes in Seddon had reported damage.
Kevin Fenaughty, of GeoNet, said in a statement that there was a 28 percent chance of another magnitude 6 or greater tremor over the 24 hours following the first.
Two large earthquakes, measuring 6.5 and 5.5, centered in the same vicinity struck on July 21, closing down parts of central Wellington for at least two days afterwards as engineers assessed buildings for damage.