Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said thousands of buildings in the city had been assessed and about 35 had external damage. If employers were satisfied their buildings were safe, workers can return to the office.

Cordons are to remain in place indefinitely in some areas because of the risk of falling windows, reports

At its maximum point, the quake was 14 per cent the force of gravity. Research service GNS Science’ Dr Ken Gledhill said the probability of a big quake happening in next week was down to 19 per cent and the aftershocks were following a downward trend.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key said: “The city has come through it very well, from what we can see.” adding: “It is a very traumatic and people are fearful of the unknown.”

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