Christchurch earthquake impact 'bigger than Katrina'

23:59, Mar 01 2011
Commuters stopped an at intersection beside Knox church on Bealey Ave, where an Australian policeman directs traffic.
Christchurch commuters stopped an at intersection beside Knox church on Bealey Ave, where an Australian policeman directs traffic.
A Soldier from Burnham hands out fruit and bottled water to Christchurch commuters stopped an at intersection beside Knox church on Bealey Ave.
A soldier from Burnham hands out fruit and bottled water to Christchurch commuters stopped an at intersection beside Knox church on Bealey Ave.
Kazimiya Shahali's family fled persecution in Iran and Iraq and thought they had settled in Christchurch for good. Pictured (left to right) Zeeba (9) Abdulnoor Qadami (father) holding Aram (5), Kazimiya (mother) holding Sara (14 months) and Fatima (11).
Kazimiya Shahali's family fled persecution in Iran and Iraq and thought they had settled in Christchurch for good. Pictured (left to right) Zeeba (9) Abdulnoor Qadami (father) holding Aram (5), Kazimiya (mother) holding Sara (14 months) and Fatima (11).
First Sergeant Rahim from Singapore helps secure the intersection of Victoria and Bealey streets.
First Sergeant Rahim from Singapore helps secure the intersection of Victoria and Bealey streets.
The clean-up after Tuesday's earthquake goes on.
The clean-up after Tuesday's earthquake goes on.
Piles of dirt from liquefaction build up as the clean-up gathers pace.
Piles of dirt from liquefaction build up as the clean-up gathers pace.
Sumner residents evacuate their homes. Maruschke Barnard with her baby Dianthe-Rose, who was born on September 4, 2010, the day of the first quake.
Sumner residents evacuate their homes. Maruschke Barnard with her baby Dianthe-Rose, who was born on September 4, 2010, the day of the first quake.
An army LAV moves along the Esplande, Sumner, as residents are evacuated from their homes.
An army LAV moves along the Esplande, Sumner, as residents are evacuated from their homes.
Sumner residents evacuated from their homes gather on the Esplanade.
Sumner residents evacuated from their homes gather on the Esplanade.
People line up to get their gas bottles filled free at the G.A.S service station in Stanmore Rd.
People line up to get their gas bottles filled free at the G.A.S service station in Stanmore Rd.
Damage in Richmond, locals explore extreme lateral spreads in River Road.
Damage in Richmond, locals explore extreme lateral spreads in River Road.
Locals explore the quake damage in River Road, Richmond.
Locals explore the quake damage in River Road, Richmond.
The Medway St bridge in Dallington.
The Medway St bridge in Dallington.
The Defence Force conducts an operational tour of Lyttelton.
The Defence Force conducts an operational tour of Lyttelton.
A Papanui Rd house in Merivale that survived the September 4 quake, but now badly damaged.
A Papanui Rd house in Merivale that survived the September 4 quake, but now badly damaged.
Confirmed dead
TRAGIC LOSS: Clockwise from top left: Jaime Gilbert, Baxtor Gowland, Owen Wright, Joseph Pohio, Natasha Hadfield, Jeff Sanft and Jayden Harris.
Zack Fastier, 3, lends a hand in the clean-up effort following the quake.
Zack Fastier, 3, lends a hand in the clean-up effort following the quake.
Baxtor Gowland funeral
The sad task of burying the quake's dead began today with the funeral of five-month-old Baxtor Gowland.
Phil Johnson's house
A boulder disloged by the 6.3 Christchurch earthquake wound up inside Phil Johnson's Morgans Valley house.
Christchurch earthquake: Day 7
A man walks home with his supermarket shopping through quake damaged roads on the corner of Avonside Rd and Retreat Rd, Christchurch.
Baxtor Gowland funeral
Friends and family farewell Baxtor Gowland, tragic five-month-old victim of the Christchurch earthquake.
Baxtor Gowland funeral
Friends and family farewell Baxtor Gowland, tragic five-month-old victim of the Christchurch earthquake.
Matthew Kemp
Matthew Kemp carries a heater from his council flat in Bexley through water and sewerage, on Day 7 of the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquake.
Emergency Co-ordination Centre
Workers toil away in the Emergency Co-ordination Centre in the Christchurch Art Gallery building.
John Key's motorcade
Prime Minister John Key's motorcade makes its way through the devastated centre of Christchurch. The Government has announced a rescue package including support payments to workers and employers.
Emergency workers stand near the frame that will be used to hold the facade of the Christchurch Cathedral in place.
Emergency workers stand near the frame that will be used to hold the facade of the Christchurch Cathedral in place.

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.

Constable David Filmer and Christine Carter
HELPING HANDS: Constable David Filmer gets some tension relief from Christine Carter. Carter has been giving stress relief therapy to police and rescue workings coming back from their duties at the end of a long day.
David Hallfrey
Dave Hallfrey from ENZEND Canterbury has been giving away free sausages and bread, just to help out.
David Hallfrey and Emma Gray
Dave Hallfrey (from ENZED Canterbury) and Emma Gray (from Divine Cake company), have been giving away free food near the Palms Mall.
Nelson Redcross Response
The Nelson Redcross Response team, Hugh Leckie, Isabelle Lotscher, Cheynne Leslie, David van der Peet, Debbie Preest, Steve King, Lee Bradley and Tasman area manager Fraser Benson prepare to head out to the suburbs of Christchurch this morning.
Richmond
A cyclist rides through a silt and water logged street in the suburb of Richmond.
Richmond
A disorientated cat drinks from ground water in a gutter in the suburb of Richmond.
Thomas Healey
Thomas Healey carries a full gas bottle tied to his back, back to a relief centre in New Brighton.
New Brighton
Residents in New Brighton collect water from a tanker that came through their street early in the day.
Lyttelton
A crane clears debris in Lyttelton.
Latimar Square
Inside the area for the rescue workers at Latimer Square.
Hambledon Bed and Breakfast
Members of the Smith family watch as their historic house is demolished in Christchurch. The 1850s-era Hambledon Bed and Breakfast was left uninhabitable after the September quake.
John Key
Prime Minister John Key visited the tent city at Latimer Square and got a hug from one of the English rescue workers.
Gerry Brownlee and John Key greet rescue workers
Prime Minister John Keyand Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee greet rescue workers on a visit to the tent city in Latimer Square, Christchurch.
Gerry Brownlee and John Key greet rescue workers
Prime Minister John Keyand Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee greet rescue workers on a visit to the tent city in Latimer Square, Christchurch.
John Key
Prime Minister John Key visits the tent city at Latimer Square.
John Key
Prime Minister John Key visits the tent city at Latimer Square.
Bryony, Brent and Shannon Smith
Brent Smith with his daughters Bryony and Shannon at the site of their Christchurch house which had to be destroyed after it was severly damaged by both quakes.
Hambledon Bed and Breakfast
Brent Smith has had his house destroyed after it was severly damaged after both quakes.
Latimer Square
A rescue worker in tent city at Latimer Square.
Noy Godfrey
Shirley resident Noy Godfrey doesn't know where to start as she cleans the sand from the front of her home.
Christchurch
Dust fills the streets of Christchurch as the sand left over from liquefaction starts to dry out.
Paul Stratford
Shirley resident Paul Stratford has a laugh as he tries to clear the sand away from his daughter's rocking horse in his Riselaw street backyard.
Paul Stratford
Shirley resident Paul Stratford cleans the sand away from his daughter's toy Batmobile.
Todd Roydon
Palmers street resident Todd Roydon next to his house which has been condemed.
Christchurch
Resident around Christchurch begin the painful task of cleaning up in the suburbs after the devastating 6.3 earthquake earlier in the week.
John Key
Prime Minister John Key prior to the start of a media conference.
Christchurch
A Chinese recovery team works with members of New Zealand Urban Search and Rescue to carry a body from the Canterbury TV site.
Chris Crishom helps clean up the streets of Christchurch.
Chris Crishom helps clean up the streets of Christchurch.
Ross Whelan and daughter Madelyne Whelan stand beside the remains of their local shops in Christchurch.
Ross Whelan and daughter Madelyne Whelan stand beside the remains of their local shops in Christchurch.
 John Key, Gerry Brownlee and Bob Parker
Prime Minister John Key, Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee and Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker outside Latimer Square.
Police patrol on push bikes
Police patrol the city centre on push bikes.
Martine Ribotton is comforted as her place of work is demolished
Lyttelton Lounge worker Martine Ribotton is comforted as the cafe where she worked is demolished.
A Southern Demolition worker retrieves a chair from the Lyttelton Lounge.
A Southern Demolition worker retrieves a chair from the condemned Lyttelton Lounge at the request of the owner. He did not know his cafe was being demolished.
An expert screens the rubble at the destroyed CTV site in Madras St.
An expert screens the rubble at the destroyed CTV site in Madras St.
Helen Clark comforts Murray Shaw.
Helen Clark comforts Murray Shaw, the deputy chair of New Zealand On Air, outside the Civil Defence headquaters in Christchurch today.
Christchurch Catholic Bascilica.
The Christchurch Bascilica lies in ruins.
Children ride past piles of liquefaction.
Children ride their bikes past huge piles of liquefaction along Roxburgh street in Beckenham. Farmers spent the morning clearing the silt and making the road passable.
Student volunteer army members Lynda Wright and Liz Williams.
Student volunteer army members help to clean up an Avonside Drive property. At front, from left, are Lynda Wright and Liz Williams.
USAR team walks passed the Christchurch Art Centre.
A USAR team walks passed the Christchurch Art Centre.
Inspector Mike Coulter looks after Police Communications in the Christchurch Central Police station.
Inspector Mike Coulter looks after Police Communications in the Christchurch Central Police station.
Linda Harrison (left at the table) continues working as the Governer General Anand Satyanand talks John Hamilton behind.
Linda Harrison (left at the table) continues working as the Governer General Anand Satyanand talks to Civil Defence chief John Hamilton behind.
Te Awhina Marae in Motueka has opened its doors to earthquake refugees from Canterbury. Motueka's Aroha Pimley, left, and Liam Patu help fold sheets.
Te Awhina Marae in Motueka has opened its doors to earthquake refugees from Canterbury. Motueka's Aroha Pimley, left, and Liam Patu help fold sheets.
Nelson police inspectors Iain McKenzie left, and Ross Lienert on the corner of Bealey Ave and Victoria Street at the edge on the cordon area, before starting their night shift on Sunday.
Nelson police inspectors Iain McKenzie left, and Ross Lienert on the corner of Bealey Ave and Victoria Street at the edge on the cordon area, before starting their night shift on Sunday.
A passerby walks past the destroyed Pharmacy building on the corner of Bealey Ave and Colombo Street.
A passerby walks past the destroyed Pharmacy building on the corner of Bealey Ave and Colombo Street.

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.

Advertisement

Jo and Hamish Blackman with  baby Alyssa born on the day of the earthquake
FRESH HOPE: Jo and Hamish Blackman with baby Alyssa born on the day of the earthquake. With any rebuilding, the priority must be buildings that are safe, Mrs Blackman says.

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.

FUNERALS BEGIN

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.

Jeff Sanft, 32, will farewelled on Thursday in a service at Kerrs Rd Chapel, Linwood, Christchurch. The same chapel will host the funeral of Andrew Christian Ross Craig, 46, later in the day.

Services for two other victims - Natasha Sarah Hadfield, 38, of Kaiapoi, and Owen Morris Wright, 40, of Lyttelton - named today have yet to be announced.

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.

EVACUATIONS CONTINUE

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. 

THE REBUILD

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