New Zealand military leaders say they have almost completed the evacuation of more than 700 tourists and residents from a small coastal town, two days after a powerful earthquake cut off train and vehicle access. The magnitude 7.8 quake left two people dead, triggered a small tsunami, and brought down rocks and mud that swept across highways. Air Commodore Darryn Webb, the acting commander of New Zealand's Joint Forces, tells the AP that crews in Kaikoura are loading about 380 people and three dogs onto a navy ship. He says the ship is due to leave Wednesday evening for a six-hour trip to a port near Christchurch.
Webb says another 340 people have been evacuated by helicopter since Tuesday. Other tourists have left by chartering their own helicopters or having air transport provided by their embassy. Some have chosen to stay until an inland road reopens. Webb said warships from Australia, Canada, and the US are due to arrive soon and will help restock the town with water, fuel, and other supplies. President-elect Donald Trump called Prime Minister John Key to pass on his sympathies over the quake. Key's office described the conversation as "very warm and cordial." (Three stranded cows that grabbed the world's attention have also been rescued.)