The Manawatu region appears to be relatively unscathed from last night's 7.5 magnitude earthquake but, emergency service personnel say it's too early to determine the extent of the damage.

Massey University has postponed exams at their Manawatu site until further notice but the campus will remain open, while KiwiRail has cancelled trains on the North Island Main Trunk Line south of Palmerston North.

The Palmerston North City Council has tweeted this morning that they are inspecting facilities in the city but say everything appears to be up and running.

Councillor Aleisha Rutherford also stated the council has "offered their support to Wellington" including the possibility of sending down engineers. A PNCC spokesman said they would have a further update later this morning.

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Palmerston North Hospital received no admissions relating to the earthquake, according to a Midcentral spokesman but, residents in the region have reported minor damage such as fallen shelving, broken ornaments and power outages. Bunnythorpe was reportedly without power from 12am-6am.

A resident on Buick Crescent in Palmerston North said her neighbours ran onto the road to seek safety, while many others reported huddling under doorways.

One woman, who asked not to be named, said she threw up and almost lost consciousness. She described being absolutely terrified and felt unprepared for a major disaster. She said her task this week would be to prepare an emergency kit for her family.

Palmerston North Airport services are running as normal today and police are continuing to respond to calls of damage and requests for assistance.

Horizons Regional Council have also issued a statement this morning saying their focus is now damage assessment and welfare.

HRC Emergency Operation Centre controller Craig Grant said the Tararua District Council had evacuated 20 people in Akitio and nine people in Herbertville. But the original tsunami warning was downgraded to a marine and beach threat, meaning residents were allowed back home from 5.20am.

"So far the impact of the earthquake to our area has been minor," he said. "There are still pockets of power outages and restoration times can be found on both Powerco's and Electra's websites."

Mr Grant said anyone who was concerned about damage to their dwelling or property, should visit the EQC website, www.eqc.govt.nz, to fill out an online form.

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He said aftershocks were expected to continue throughout the day and these could trigger tsunami warnings.

"If you experience a long or strong aftershock, or see a sudden rise or fall in the sea level move immediate to the nearest high ground, or as far inland as you can. We recommend that people continue to listen to the TV and radio for updates and where possible check your neighbours are informed."

More to come...