Christchurch earthquake impact 'bigger than Katrina'
Prime Minister John Key will travel to Christchurch tomorrow with his wife Bronagh to observe the nationwide two minutes' silence for the victims of the Christchurch earthquake and their families.
That will be at 12.51pm, the time the earthquake struck the city.
"This is a time when the country will want to come together and pay our respects to those families who have lost loved ones and are suffering as a result of the earthquake," Key said today.
"It will be particularly important for me to be with my family as well."
Key was born in Auckland and raised in Christchurch, while his wife was born and grew up in the city.
They will observe two minutes' silence on the forecourt of Christchurch Art Gallery.
Key has a sister living in Christchurch and said today her home would likely be demolished because of earthquake damage.
In Wellington, people will gather on Parliament's forecourt, where Deputy Prime Minister Bill English will speak.
CHRISTCHURCH EARTHQUAKE RESCUE PACKAGE
The NZ Government has released details of its rescue package for workers and employers affected by the Christchurch earthquake.
The impact of the earthquake on Christchurch is bigger than the economic toll that Hurricane Katrina had on New Orleans in 2005, Key said.
Announcing the package, Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said support payments for Christchurch workers and employers would be in bank accounts by Wednesday,
The payments come in two parts - the earthquake support subsidy to help employers keep paying wages and earthquake job loss cover.
Businesses will receive $500 a week per full-time employee and $300 a week per part-time employee.
A separate job loss cover of $400 a week will go to those whose employers believe their business is no longer viable.
"The subsidy is designed to keep businesses connected with their staff," Key said.
"It is designed to get people through the next six weeks."
The package is expected to cost $100 to $120 million.
Treasury estimates place the cost of the quake at $10 billion to $15b, taking the cost of both quakes to about $20 billion.
Bennett said there was a lot of uncertainty over whether jobs and businesses would continue in Christchurch, ''so this measure will help ensure people can pay the bills for the next few weeks''.
The package is not available to Government employees (who will continue to get paid), or businesses that are headquartered outside Christchurch.
"There may be exceptions to this, so we'd encourage people to call us to talk it through."
"People can apply online, over the phone or they can come into Work and Income, but they will need their IRD number and a bank account number to speed the process," Bennett said.
The grim task of burying the earthquake's dead began today with the tragic funeral of five-month-old Baxtor Gowland.
Police confirmed 148 deaths following Tuesday's 6.3 magnitude quake, but so far only eight victims have been officially named.
The family of Ian Neville Caldwell, 47, pre-empted police and issued a death notice.
A builder by trade, Caldwell is believed to have died when boulders rained down on Sumner RSA and a building site next door.
Funeral details are to be advised. Caldwell's wife Julie was inconsolable with grief and was unable to speak about her loss. Other family members have declined to speak.
The official death toll is expected to reach 200 with dozens more still missing.
Baby Baxtor was born just 13 days after the September 4 quake, only to lose his life in the February 22 quake.
The tragic loss of such a short life was evident as his tiny, white casket was taken from the Academy Funeral Services Chapel in Riccarton today following a private half-hour service.
One man carried the casket covered in a light blue blanket embroidered with a red truck, topped with a wreath of white roses.
He placed it in the back of a dark grey car as Baxtor's mother, Breanna Garland - holding a blue teddy bear - joined her son in the vehicle while mourners hugged one another.
"Bax you are forever in our hearts we will always love you xo," his father Shaun McKenna wrote on a Facebook tribute page dedicated to his son.
"To the little man who made everyone smile who met him, may you look down upon us and help us remember your beautiful face."
Gowland described her son as "awesome" and wrote on her Facebook wall that she was a "proud mama", soon after his birth.
Mourners posted messages of support on the social networking site.
"Precious moments to be held on to forever,'' one post read.
''I'm wishing you all the strength in the world to get through this, all of us near and far are thinking of you."
Christchurch residents will be able leave messages in a book of condolences and reflect on Tuesday's devastating earthquake at the city's Botanic Gardens from tomorrow.
The special place of condolence at the Archery Lawn in the Botanic Gardens would be open from 8am to 4pm daily for members of the public to visit and reflect on the weeks events, Christchurch City Council said.
A funeral for 22-year-old Jaime Gilbert, who died as he tried to escape his workplace, the Iconic Bar, will be held at Burnside High School's Aurora Centre tomorrow.
Joseph Tehau Pohio, 40, killed by falling rubble as he crouched to help an injured woman, will be buried at Kaiti Atua Cemetery in Kaiapoi following a service at his parents' home.
Goodbyes will be said to eight-month-old Jayden Harris in a service at the John Rhind Lounge, Richmond, Christchurch on Wednesday.
The family of Shane Tomlin, whose haunting image became the human face of Christchurch's earthquake, have also been told to prepare for a funeral though he has not been officially named among the dead yet.
Area Commander Superintendent Dave Cliff said waiting was the agonising part for families.
"Many families know they have lost a loved one, but they're not sure where and they are looking for closure.
"We want to do everything we can to reunite everyone as fast as possible, but not at the risk of getting anything wrong," he said.
Cliff said the process of identifying the victims involved matching autopsy information with that gathered from the likes of dentists and family members.
A computer system searched the information, and it was then assessed by a coroner to ensure there was enough information for a positive match.
"The computer system being used is international, it's the process used by Interpol,'' he said. ''It's a complicated process but it's very thorough."
HIGH WINDS NOT AS BAD AS PREDICTED
Meanwhile, Christchurch residents have been warned to take care today with strong winds forecast.
Mayor Bob Parker said there was 180,000 tonnes of dust and debris from Tuesday's quake - compared with 30,000 tonnes following the September quake.
Parker said the dust was not an "immediate health risk, but itself it is an irritant". He said at a press conference late this afternoon that the winds were not as high as initially predicted, which came as a relief.
Two significant aftershocks rattled Christchurch this morning - a 4.3 magnitude at 10.35am, and a 4.1 magnitude at 7.55am. There have been more than 50 aftershocks that have measured magnitude 4 or above since Tuesday's devastating quake.
Parker said there would be an inquiry into the earthquake, but the details of it would be decided by the government.
"We need to analyse what's happened, understand what happened, and where appropriate, look at changes.
"What's essential for this city going forward is public safety."
At the Pyne Gould Corporation building, a laser has been set up in the stairwell to monitor the movement.
The building was at risk of collapse but at this stage a crane is due to remove the top part of the stairwell to reduce the danger of collapse.
Meanwhile recovery operations in the Canterbury Television building have been scaled back and from tomorrow will be carried out in daylight hours only.
Overnight two more people were arrested, Cliff said. One was charged with possession of offensive weapons - knives, a police baton and an axe. "If criminals try to take advantage of the situation they will be arrested," Cliff said.
Parker said at this morning's briefing that 55,000 properties still do not have water, but 85 per cent of the city now had power.
Meanwhile around 200 properties in the Christchurch hillside suburbs of Clifton Hill and Redcliffs have been evacuated because of concerns over cracks in the rockface above homes.
Detective Damon Wells said further analysis by engineers of the hillside behind the houses had indicated there was a risk of rock falls.
These properties are mostly located below Clifton Terrace and include Kinsey Terrace, Tuawera Terrace to the bottom of Clifton Terrace, Moncks Bay Lane, Emily Lane to Cliff Street, Main Road to Nayland Street, Clifton Road, Aranoni Track, Mulligans Track, points south of Zigzag, and Hurst Seager Lane.
A welfare centre has been established at the old Sumner School in Wiggins Street where a meeting will be held at 5pm tonight.
Police were contacting all affected property owners. Residents were being asked to go to the Sumner Beach Surf Lifesaving Club, and gather by the Poseiden Cafe. It was not known how long people would be out of their homes.
Parker this morning urged all New Zealanders to plan for when a big quake may strike, as the Government started to reveal how the city would be rebuilt.
The quake had shown that everyone in New Zealand needed to be prepared. He said his mind turned to Wellington, which sat on the country's most well-known faultline.
Parker urged people to put aside emergency supplies and have a plan in place for what they'd do if such a disaster struck again.
Cabinet will this afternoon discuss its plans for the city, with a temporary CBD and imported housing in the mix.
Prime Minister John Key has ordered advice from Treasury on the feasibility of a quake levy, but was concerned it would dampen economic activity.
Treasury is also urgently compiling an indication of the likely cost of both quakes which Key said would probably be higher than the $14 billion floated so far.
The massive cost of rebuilding infrastructure is likely to be picked up by all taxpayers regardless.
Key said it was not "feasible or practical" for Christchurch ratepayers to shoulder 50 per cent of the cost as normal.
As many as 500 CBD buildings may be demolished, but rebuilding will not start till aftershocks stop.
Former mayor Garry Moore said Christchurch had an opportunity to build an "environmentally sound, fantastically state-of-the-art, 21st-century place that will attract the brains and the thinkers of the world. We lost a lot of our beauty and that has to be rebuilt, in a modern way."
As the city looks to its rebirth, a lucky few are celebrating the arrival of precious new life that the earthquake helped hasten.
On Tuesday morning, a midwife told Jo Blackman her baby's birth was days away. But the contractions began not long after the quake hit at 12.51pm.
Daughter Alyssa was born in Christchurch Women's Hospital at 7.30pm, one of 65 babies born since the quake. "It was just good to have a healthy baby girl born into the world when so many others were experiencing suffering and loss," Blackman said.
The mother of two, 34, wanted any rebuilding of the city to preserve some of its heritage, but the priority was to be safe for children to grow up in.
Yesterday, Key launched the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal, a global fundraiser for the recovery effort.
The Red Cross will meet Wednesday to decide how to divvy up the money donated to its appeal.
The tally currently stands at $5.2 million, and Red Cross in Australia, Britain, Ireland and Japan are also running earthquake appeals.
Today he will announce an emergency business recovery package worth hundreds of millions of dollars - even bigger than the September 4 aid package.
That package paid a $350 wage subsidy to workers in small businesses hit by the quake. Today's is expected to include all but the biggest national and multinational companies.
Key said the package was temporary, to tide people over for the first month, while the Government grappled with what else needed to be done.
It was also likely to establish a recovery authority this week and set in motion the beefing up of law changes passed for the first quake.
Exploratory talks are also underway over rehousing as many businesses as possible. Mobile office buildings, railway goods yards and even AMI Stadium are being floated as emergency venues.
More than 52,000 people worked in the CBD but Key said the area would be off-limits for weeks, perhaps months.
Asked if the Government would need to use its powers under the national state of emergency to requisition land or buildings, he said it had not looked at that issue.
About 10,000 people were expected to need temporary accommodation and the Government was looking at "all sorts of alternatives".
Housing Minister Phil Heatley is expected to make an announcement on temporary modular housing this week and the Government has been looking at placing them on partly developed subdivisions around Christchurch.
Key acknowledged the country's books would take a hit, with a drop in tax revenue from Christchurch and the cost of the recovery and rebuilding package affecting the May Budget, but the Government could afford it.
He expected a "significant increase" in the Earthquake Commission levy.
The scale of the devastation would also probably mean repriortising other infrastructure projects around the country.
- with AAP