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Strong earthquake hits central New Zealand, several aftershocks reported

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Friday, August 16, 2013, 7:34 AM -

A magnitude 6.5 earthquake struck near the small town of Seddon, New Zealand just after 2:30 pm local time Friday. Officials say at least six aftershocks of magnitude 5.0 or stronger were also reported.

Several homes near the epicenter were damaged with chimneys collapsing and roofs caving in, police say.

Police were also forced to close a section of the main highway near Seddon because of fallen rocks and debris.

In Wellington, some buildings were evacuated and a number of people were freed from elevators that had stopped working when the quake hit.

The initial temblor also forced the nation's stock exchange to close for more than an hour.

Despite the damage to some homes and roads, officials say no serious injuries have been reported and no tsunami warnings were issued.

New Zealand is part of the Pacific "Ring of Fire'' that has regular seismic activity.

A severe earthquake in the city of Christchurch in 2011 killed 185 people and destroyed much of the city's downtown.

With files from The Associated Press

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