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Homes evacuated over dam burst fears

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 16/11/2016

Four homes in southern Marlborough have been evacuated over fears another earthquake-caused river dam could burst its banks.

Thirteen people from the four houses alongside the Ure, or Waima, River, south of Ward, left on Wednesday night, Marlborough Civil Defence controller Richard McNamara says.

Debris and slips from the magnitude-7.8 Kaikoura earthquake created dams in the river in several places upstream from the houses, which are about 9km from the rivermouth.

One of the dams was 1.5km from one of the houses and the forecast of rain over the next two days necessitated the move, Mr McNamara said.

Officials are also warning people to stay away from the Hapuku River, north of Kaikoura, where a quake-generated slip has formed a 150m-high dam.

Canterbury Civil Defence Group says heavy rain and a build-up of pressure could cause the new lake behind the dam to spill over or break through.

"We strongly advise people to stay away from the riverbed," it said.

The river reaches the sea north of Kaikoura and police and others have been warning campers and residents in the area of the danger and moving those in harm's way.

Earlier in the week there a dam on the Clarence River, between the Ure and Hapuku rivers, burst but downstream properties had already evacuated.

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