Christchurch quake: latest info

Last updated 23:22 25/02/2011

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11.22pm The fire service is urging people in Christchurch to take care as power is restored to the earthquake-hit city to avoid further fires breaking out.

The fire service had attended four fires overnight caused by power being restored to buildings, Fire Service assistant national commander Brian Butt said.

7.32pm: More than 300 Australian police officers, sworn in today with New Zealand policing powers, will help in the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquake and start work tonight.

6.01pm: Police have released the names of two more deceased. They are Jeff Pelesa Sanft, 32 and Andrew Christian Ross Craig, 46.

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Eight people were arrested last night for various offences including breaching the cordon. Two people have been remanded in custody for stealing generators.

5.50pm: Around 10,000 people a day have flown out of Christchurch since Tuesday's quake.

5.30pm: Prince Charles has signed the book of condolence at NZ House in London.

4.45pm: The Earthquake Commission expects the 182,000 claims from the September quake will have to be re-assessed.

It expects a further 130,000 claims from Tuesday's quake. About 9300 claims have already been lodged.

4.30pm: Chief Coroner Neil MacLean says his team hopes to release more bodies to families in coming days.

Air NZ has extended its $50 standby fares for those travelling to and from Christchurch. They are on sale now for travel until March 6. The airline has also added capacity on the routes in and out of the city.

4.20pm: Community laundries are being set up for quake-affected Christchurch people.

Fisher and Paykel has set up two laundries so far - one at 79 Shands Road, Hornby, and the other at the corner of Berswick and Charles St, Kaiapoi. They are open 8am to 4pm. Other potential sites are being investigated.

4.10pm: Plans for rebuilding Christchurch must be completely rethought. Wellington artchitect Ian Athfield says one option is to use "floating" structures for newly-built houses.

3.40pm: Nelson will host the Crusaders' first two home games of the Super Rugby season against the Waratahs and Brumbies.

AMI Stadium was closed after Tuesday's devastating quake, and will remain so until at least March 15 while damage is assessed. The Australian teams had offered to host the games, but the Crusaders wanted to play them in their franchise area.

2.45pm: The council has distributed 780 portaloos around the city, and another 1200 are coming from NZ and the US.

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More than 350 people at the Cowles Stadium welfare centre are relocating to Rangiora and Rolleston. A council spokesperson said the centre would close at 4pm due to concerns about an outbreak of measles or diarrhoea, and sanitation worries. 

1.50pm: The cost of rebuilding Christchurch will be more than $10b, Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee says.

The strength of the earthquake may have been magnified as it reflected off hard volcanic rock below its epicentre, GNS Science earthquake geologist Kelvin Berryman says.

Foreign Affairs Minister Murry McCully says the tragedy is not just New Zealand's, and the government was preparing to give many overseas families "some very bad news".

12.45pm:  An NZ Post employee has died in the quake, and several others are missing.

Two cranes are using large claws to clear rubble from the base of the CTV building.

A 90 metre cordon is in place around the Hotel Grand Chancellor, which appears to have stabilised. It has not moved in two days, and regular measurements are being monitored by the Department of Building and Housing.

12.25pm: Prince Phillip has signed the condolence book at NZ's High Commission in London.

12.20pm: Contact Energy has put $2 million aside to help its Christchurch customers struggling in the quake aftermath. It has pledged a further $1m in general support.

11.50am: Army water treatment units are taking sea water from New Brighton and turning it into fresh water, producing 2000 litres an hour. In addition, Army catering staff are producing 1700 breakfasts, and 1800 lunches and dinners a day for defence force staff in Christchurch.

There are seven foreign nationals in Christchurch Hospital, including three Japanese and two Canadians with serious injuries - one with spinal injuries and the other with suspected brain damage. One Australian and one Briton are also in hospital, but they are NZ residents.

There have been no reports of significant injuries to animals in the quake. A specialised 12-member team from Massey University is on standby to provide emergency in-field veterinary treatment in Christchurch but has not been required yet.

11.13am: Orion's Roger Sutton says 80% of customers should have power by tonight. 

Orion will start building a 3-kilometre overhead line from Bromley to Brighton and hopes to have it operational within a week.

11.10am: Canterbury District Health Board urges residents to continue boiling water as gastro illnesses will put a strain on health services.

11.07am: Paul Baxter, from the Fire Service, says preservation of life is still the first priority.

About 600 rescue workers from NZ, Queensland, NSW, Japan, UK, Taiwan and Singapore are on the ground, he says.

10.55am: The Christchurch earthquake death toll has now risen to 113, police say.

10.51am: Mayor Bob Parker says yesterday was a "very sobering moment" for the council as one of their employees was on the missing list.

"We are doing everything we can to rescue people, our assumption is we will be finding people alive, we don't know if that's true but that's the procss we are working to," he said.

10.48am: Civil Defence Director John Hamilton says there is no need to worry about petrol supplies, people do not need to stockpile or take risky steps to store petrol.

Supermarkets are well-stocked and Christchurch will not run out of food, he says.

10.40am: Residents are being warned to ask for ID after reports of scammers impersonating officials.

10.36am: Telecom says phone lines have been restored but are still urging people to text rather than call.

10.05am: The March 8 Census has been cancelled because of the disruption caused by the earthquake.

Saturday's $15 million lotto draw cannot be legally cancelled, says the Lotteries Commission. There have been calls for the money to be given to the earthquake fund instead.

32 roads and 13 bridges remain closed in Christchurch. Lyttelton Tunnel is relatively unscathed, but remains closed.

9.40am: Around 80 teams now going house to house in Operation Suburb to assess buildings.  

Mayor Bob Parker says the danger posed by the leaning Grand Chancellor Hotel is hampering efforts to search the alleyways and areas around it. He said the hotel would fall down, or there would be a controlled demolition in the "very near future".

9.05am: Engineers to begin clearing debris from ChristChurch Cathedral to remove the 22 bodies believed buried inside. 

8.45am: Doctors' visits and prescriptions remain free for Christchurch people until Sunday.  

8.37am: New Zealand troops in Afghanistan have sent their love and best wishes to the people of Christchurch.

Urban search and rescue teams are now moving through public areas where people might have been trapped during their lunch breaks.

7.38am: The Government is not ruling out a nationwide tax to help fund the rebuilding of Christchurch but will not make any decisions soon, Prime Minister John Key says.

He said the lack of economic activity in Christchurch would be a drag on the national economy but the country could cope.

"We've got the financial capacity to deal with the earthquake," he told Radio New Zealand.

Treasury Secretary John Whitehead was travelling to Christchurch today.

Key said he would consider a nation-wide tax if it was the best way to pay for the rebuild but said it was too early to think about it yet.

For now the focus remained on the rescue operation, he said.

He said there were enough people working in the rescue teams and identifying bodies and the Australians particularly had been "absolutely remarkable".

"We've got good teams and I believe that is enough. We just need people to believe we can get through this."

The delays in identification were not because of a lack of staff but because of the state of some of the bodies, he said.

"My understanding is they do have enough resources but it's a very laborious task."

Families were being notified but there was a limit as to what could be released publicly, he said.

There could be up to 65 people dead in the language school in the CTV building alone.

7.24am: Christchurch's Cathedral will be rebuilt, Mayor Bob Parker says.

He said the building, which was badly damaged, was, a stunning and symbolic building

''There is some discussion that that is a building we could rebuild brick by brick, stone by stone, we need to find some symbols like that.''

There will be a new and stronger city rising out of the ruins and it was realistic to start thinking about it.

''The scale of what has happened here means we will have to take some bold steps.''

7.21am: The army is manning cordons around the evacuated Christchurch suburb of Redcliffs.

Lyttelton police sergeant Gary Manch said the cordons would remain in place this morning, around an area where the residents of nine streets were evacuated last night.

He told TV1 this morning he was happy all the residents of those streets were safe, after either leaving to stay with friends or heading to welfare stations at Cowles Stadium.

Many people in the suburb had already left their homes in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake.

However, he urged people to remain away from the area, bear with police, and respect the cordons.

"People just going to have a look are causing problems."

7.19am: Cancel Saturday night’s Lotto draw and give the $15 million to the Canterbury earthquake fund is the call from a new Facebook group.

''Call for NZ Lotteries Commission to donate this week's $12M to Christchurch'' had 2138 people ''like'' the page at 7am.

Comments on the page almost unanimously support the idea.

''Christchurch needs some help! It will cost billions to rebuild! So i dont see why they wouldnt give it to Christchurch, and if not, the winner should give it to Christchurch!'' wrote Suzy Shaddix Dobier.

Nicole Hughes posted: ''Potential winners of this prize will never miss what they didn't have.... Residents of Christchurch however, know what it is to loose [sic] everything. Lotteries commission, it is the communities [sic] money hand it over.''

But on its official twitter page, @NZ Lotteries, the Lotteries Commission says it cannot follow through with the request.

''Like all NZers we would love to help out, but we have already sold lots of tkts this week so are obligated to run a draw on Sat.''

Under the National State of Emergency Provisions, in the Civil Defence Emergency Act 2002, authorities have wide powers to take what they need but actions have to be later validated by Parliament.

7.16am: Search teams are assessing how to get into the area around the listing Grand Chancellor Hotel.

Urban Search and Rescue spokesman Mitchell Brown said that area was the only part of the Christchurch CBD which had not yet been thoroughly searched.

As time went by, he said the situation was becoming more tragic, he told TV1.

"Unfortunately the role for the urban search and rescue has been body recovery."

However, Brown said rescue teams were still looking for survivors.

"Our operations are always positive."

The top two floors of the Canterbury TV building had been removed overnight, Brown said.

Rescue teams would continue working around that building as well as the rest of the city, despite weather conditions making rain seem likely today.

"Whatever mother nature throws at us, we will continue to do the job."

6.34am: There are now ten specialist urban search and rescue teams from around the world operating in Christchurch.

6.28am: Eighty teams will be making assessments throughout the city today.

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said 80 teams were going out into the city.

They will knock on doors and will ask about personal health and the state of property.

"We are going to build up a far more complete picture of the city."

6.19am: Power has been restored to 75 per cent of Christchurch and 50 per cent of the city has mains water.

But Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker has warned that water usage still needs to be limited.

6.09am: Seventy people have been rescued following the earthquake.

The last live rescue was reported on Wednesday afternoon.

"We will continue on with the search until there are no bodies to recover" Civil Defence Minister John Carter said this morning.

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