Christchurch earthquake: Latest information - Friday

Last updated 14:09 04/03/2011

Aftermath of Christchurch quake Graphic content

Prime minster John key
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Members of the public shake hands with Prime Minister John Key following a ceremony held in Christchurch.
Christchurch quake cordon opening
ANDREW GORRIE/Dominion Post Zoom
Private Thomas Evans takes down the cordon on Worcester Street on Sunday.

EQC's responce to requests for emergency repairs.

Earthquake search effort shifts to recovery

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Christchurch earthquake

'Special little symbols of hope' Hands grasped on holy ground Christchurch: A tale of two cities Earthquake stress plea to insurers Inspections rise after demolitions spark safety fears Life in the rebuild's waiting room Pool repairs could cost city $6m Royals to meet quake victims' families Saving a sense of history Quake legislation not enough, says Council

LATEST: 5.38pm: At a press conference, Mayor Bob Parker said the dust had been causing problems today.

"It's been a hot windy day, the dust has caused a number of problems, especially on eastern seaboard area."

More than 56,000 properties on east Christchurch had been inspected by today, he said.

Many homes out there have been self-evacuated and the inspectors had been accessing the buildings and the welfare needs of the occupants.

4.43: Air New Zealand has extended its $50 one-way airfares to and from Christchurch until the end of March.

The standby airfares mean customers need to be at the airport and ready to travel on the first available flight that has a spare seat.

4.33pm: State Highway 74, from Breezes Rd/Bridge St to Wainoni Rd re-opens and is the last highway to do so.

3.22pm: The Palms shopping centre in Shirley will not be demolished, but the mall will be shut for at least four weeks.

2.29pm: New Zealand universities have announced exchange programmes for displaced Canterbury students.

The University of Canterbury Vice-Chancellor Dr Rod Carr said the agreements confirmed today involve the University of Auckland, AUT University, Massey University, Victoria University of Wellington and the University of Waikato.

''Otago is considering signing up to the exchange agreement but we believe it needs other approvals before making any commitment,'' he said.

Lincoln University is offering support to other Christchurch-based institutions by providing access to space for teaching delivery.

"I can appreciate the complexities involved in signing up to an exchange agreement like this at very little notice. This kind of thing would normally take years to co-ordinate. We are truly grateful to these universities for what they have achieved, working with us, in little over a week."

The exchanges will allow undergraduate students enrolled at the University of Canterbury to study at a partner university for the first semester of 2011. From semester two students will be able to return to Christchurch to complete their degree.

Dr Carr said all of the universities involved in the exchange programme have agreed not to charge fees for students who elect to spend the first semester away from Christchurch.

"What has been achieved reflects the widespread interest in the wellbeing of our students."

Students will be responsible for return transportation and other living and accommodation costs involved in relocating to partner universities.

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The announcement comes as more than 300 undergraduate students prepare to travel to Australia on Sunday to spend the first semester in Adelaide. The study abroad option is the result of an offer by the University of Adelaide as part of an existing relationship it has with the University of Canterbury.

Buildings on the UC campus are still being inspected but not all teaching facilities will be certified safe within the next six to eight weeks.

2.08pm: Prime Minister John Key's sister has lost two close friends to the Christchurch earthquake.

Mr Key also said during another tour of the damaged city today that his sister's was "almost certainly" set to be destroyed.

2.06pm: Christchurch residents who have moved away from Christchurch, even temporarily, are being urged to register with the Red Cross.

Self-evacuees should also update their details with the Red Cross when they move from one location to another.

To register or update your details Call 0800 REDCROSS (0800 733 276) or contact your local council.

''It's really important that people register. The information will help make sure services can be better targeted and Government will be able to allocate funding to agencies working in particular areas,'' National Crisis Management Centre’s David Coetzee said.
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The Red Cross Registration system gives an accurate picture of where evacuees are located and the information will be useful in the future to support people who have been affected by the Christchurch Earthquake.

Registering will help Red Cross Family Link to re-unite friends and family. It will also verify people who may still be missing. People concerned about the wellbeing of friends and relatives in Christchurch should also call the Red Cross Assistance Line (0800 REDCROSS).

More than 10,000 people are currently registered as being affected by the Christchurch Earthquake on the Red Cross database.

2.05pm: PM John Key has come away from Christchurch's eastern suburbs without copping much flak from people unhappy about recovery efforts.

Key flew over the area in a helicopter late this morning, then visited a power station in Bexley. He also walked some of the streets near the station and was confronted by a few of the resident still living in the area.

Lance and Gay Johnston had army personnel and three students from Canterbury University clearing more than a metre thick of silt covering their front lawn.

Lance Johnston said there were no portaloos in the area but he and his wife had left to another part of town.

"We are just a little corner of the whole thing," Johnston said.

"We hope things will happen but they can't happen over night."

Key said Civil Defence had given an assurance to him that they were doing everything possible to help in the eastern suburbs.

"It's not just a simple matter of plugging back in the power," Key said.

1.56pm: Christchurch people still without power and with badly damaged homes face a cold, wet and miserable weekend.

The first cold southerly spell of the year is forecast to move into Christchurch tomorrow afternoon, with rain developing by the evening and temperatures plummeting to around 7-8 degrees Celsius overnight.

Snow is likely down to 1000m.

Chilly, showery conditions are likely to continue on Sunday with a possible high of 16C before another cold night.

MetService forecaster Mads Naeraa said the cold snap would come as an unwelcome surprise for those hit hardest by last Tuesday's earthquake.

''It's going to be a major change for people in Christchurch.''

Next week would be mainly fine and sunny with occasional cloudy spells. It would stay cooler until Thursday

1.27pm: Reuben Thorne will captain the Classic All Blacks in an earthquake fund-raising match next week.

More than 10,000 tickets were reportedly sold in 24 hours for the match against the Classic Wallabies at Brisbane's Ballymore on March 10, while sponsors have been queuing up to support the match from which proceeds will go to the Christchurch earthquake relief effort.

1.21pm: Ten days after metal sculptor Gary Baynes dodged heavy machinery being thrown around his workshop by last week's devastating Christchurch earthquake, he feels guilty about getting good news.

Baynes, who nearly died as a five-tonne metal press was thrown around his workshop in the suburb of Burwood, has won the Waikato Sculpture Trust People's Choice award for his sculpture, Vintage Winds, based on a song by Australian artist Paul Kelly.

He took the award ahead of 30 artists, all of whose work is displayed at Waitakaruru Arboretum and Sculpture Park east of Hamilton.

Mr Baynes said after spending the last week cleaning up his workshop and picking up machines.

"I am feeling a little guilty about having some good news among the bad."

He said the People's Choice award was the biggest compliment.

"If there is any award I would rather win, that would be it."

12.45pm: Kiwis wanting another way to give money to the Christchurch earthquake appeal will be able to use their tax refund for donations made over the past year.

From next month, people will have the option to redirect their annual tax credits for donations to the earthquake appeal.

Last year tax credits claimed for donations were worth about $154 million.

Revenue Minister Peter Dunne said giving some or all of that amount to the appeal would add up to a "very significant level of gifting".

Tax credit forms will be posted to people from the end of this month and can be downloaded from the Inland Revenue website (www.ird.govt.nz ).

12.43pm: HMNZS Canterbury has arrived in Lyttelton with her second consignment of supplies for Christchurch, including portable showers.

She will commence unloading when the tide allows, at approximately 2pm.

The load on Canterbury weighs 252 tonnes and consists mainly of drainage and general maintenance equipment such as:

Excavators (five), JCB Loader, works ute and caravan, truck and compressor, large truck and transporter, lLarge trucks (two) and three axle trailers filled with heavy duty drainage equip, truck and generator, truck and trailer, ute, trailers (two), large truck and four axle trailer, trenching frames (five), 6m containers (two), large Porta-showers (five).

12.40pm: Lincoln University will open on Monday week with registration, orientation and lectures all taking place at the same time.

"We fully expect students to enrol and start their year with us on the 14th," Vice Chancellor professor Roger Field said.

Staff returned to work on March 2 after a thorough engineering inspection of buildings and facilities confirmed the safety of the campus.

"In effect Lincoln University is starting its teaching only a fortnight later than scheduled. Through some curriculum and course outline revisions, the required number of learning hours appropriate to courses will be preserved.

"There will be absolutely no diminishment of academic standards and the learning opportunities for our students will be maintained at their customary standard of excellence," said Prof Field.

12.36pm: Information briefings will be held in the worst quake-affected areas around Christchurch this Sunday.

Mayor Bob Parker, along with members of the Fire Service, Police and Civil Defence, will deliver an update on the earthquake response, with limited time available for individual questions.

The briefings will be held in open spaces to ease any fears about being inside buildings in case of aftershocks.

They will be held at the following locations on Sunday, March 6:

* Cuthberts Green, Pages Road – 10am (beside softball fields) – for residents of Avondale, Avonside, Aranui, Dallington, Linwood and Wainoni.

* Waltham Park – 12 noon (on Waltham Road) – for residents of St Martins, Opawa, Murray Aynsley and Beckenham.

* Somerfield Park – 2pm (off Woodard Terrace) for residents of Somerfield, Cashmere and Spreydon.

* South Hagley Park Cricket Ground – 4pm (on Riccarton Avenue) for residents of the Central Christchurch Business District.

Venues and times for briefings in Lyttelton and Sumner on Monday, March 7 will be confirmed later.

12.30pm: Caravan parks are being set up to help people left homeless by the Christchurch earthquake, Housing Minister Phil Heatley says.

Offers of accommodation had so far been more than demand (more than 2000 offers of accommodation and 552 people requiring emergency housing) and Housing New Zealand had been matching people with available properties but capacity would be stretched as more people returned to the city, he said.

The Department of Building and Housing (DBH) was looking at temporary housing.

"Temporary housing must be highly portable and easily erected, with self-contained sewerage and waste systems. Independent units with dedicated cooking and laundry facilities are preferable," Mr Heatley said.

The DBH has sourced campervans and mobile-homes and two sites selected at Canterbury Park A&P Showgrounds and the Riccarton Racecourse.

Rent would be charged but people struggling with costs would get grants.

12.23pm: The search of the Pyne Gould Corporation building in central Christchurch is over, Fire Service search co-ordinator Paul Baxter said this morning.

Some bodies were removed from the building, one of the scenes of worst devastation and loss of life in the earthquake 10 days ago, during the night, he said.

The number of bodies found in the building has not yet been revealed. The official death toll from the magnitude 6.3 quake stood at 163 today, with police expecting it to reach 220.

Searchers are still clearing the Canterbury TV, ChristChurch Cathedral and Forsyth Barr sites.

12.19pm: Prime Minister John Key has helicoptered above the quake-ravaged eastern suburbs of Christchurch.

Key has arrived in the city late this morning and immediately took to the air in an air force Iroquois helicopter with Orion chief executive Roger Sutton.

Key is visiting a severely damaged power station in Bexley and is expected to meet with the "Farmy Army" in Linwood this afternoon.

The Government has faced criticism for an alleged neglect of the eastern suburbs since last Tuesday's quake.

Portaloos were rushed to the area yesterday after Mr Key said the focus had been on saving lives in the CBD before now.

Hundreds of volunteers, army and other officials are in the area today clearing streets and offering free food and LPG to locals. Portaloos are still not highly visible, however, though the Government says many more are on the way.

11.50am: Eight recovery assistance centres will open, six of them tomorrow, in areas hardest hit by the Christchurch earthquake, Social Development Minster Paula Bennett says.

"These centres will provide a range of services to people in localised areas in Christchurch, particularly the eastern suburbs," she said.

A centre at Burnside High School is closing so classes could resume. People staying overnight in welfare centres were being provided other accommodation.

"As the focus moves towards sustainable solutions for Christchurch, recovery centres will provide the day-to-day support needed, while families move into private accommodation."

Recovery assistance centres would provide service and information from agencies including Work and Income, Housing New Zealand, Christchurch City Council, Red Cross and Salvation Army.

More non government organisations would be joining.

11.42am: Seven drink-drivers were caught by police in Christchurch within a few hours overnight.

In one case a 35-year-old man completely ignored police and military personnel on the cordon at Moorhouse Avenue and Durham Street and drove straight between the cones into the CBD. He was stopped and found to be over the drink-drive limit. He was also arrested for possession of cannabis.

Six others were located within a short space of time including a 19-year-old woman on Moorhouse Avenue more than twice the legal limit.

A military vehicle came across a man who had rolled his vehicle on Harper Avenue. Fortunately there were medic on board the military vehicle who rendered first aid before he was taken to hospital. Alcohol is suspected.

Police last night staged a number of random checkpoints around the city to provide a highly visible presence and send a  message that the extraordinary circumstances that currently face the city are no excuse for flouting the law. At one checkpoint a 34-year-old Dunedin man was found to be wanted on a prison recall warrant.

"The Christchurch community has had enough tragedy and loss of life without idiots taking to the roads and putting more lives at risk," Superintedent Russell Gibson said.

"The work we are doing is as much about providing a reassuring presence as it is about enforcement. We are sensitive to the situation in Christchurch and have exercised a degree of tolerance and discretion but we won't just stand back and allow people to just disregard the law."

11.26am: Many people are now returning to Canterbury after leaving immediately after the quake.

They have been warned to take care, particularly those in damaged buildings.

Returning residents should ensure power was off at the mains before checking all appliances. The same message applied to gas feeds and gas appliances.

There were seven fires overnight due to power restoration in buildings.

11.25am: Christchurch CBD is to be opened - with limited access - zone-by-zone to allow people to retrieve vehicles.

The south western corner would be the first zone, on Sunday afternoon, but details would be advertised.

11.04am: Nearly 1500 buildings in Christchurch's central business district have been either red or yellow stickered.

Civil Defence controller John Hamilton said 3000 had been inspected and 45 percent had received red (no access) or yellow stickers.

Of the city's heritage buildings, 1000 had been inspected and of the category one and two buildings, 50 per cent had been red stickered, which means no access.

Mr Hamilton said 21,000 homes had been inspected and 6 percent (around 1350 homes) had received red stickers.

Overall, 56,000 buildings had been inspected.

10.58am: Meridian Energy is freezing power prices for its 107,000 Christchurch customers for another six months following last week's earthquake.

Chief executive Tim Lusk, who is visiting the city today, said the company recognised the huge impact the earthquake has had on Christchurch.

"The city is a key centre for Meridian both in terms of customers and our 300 Christchurch-based staff.

"We won't be raising prices here - our focus is on getting through this next period together."

The company has also extended the due date on Christchurch customers' current bills by one month.

10.55am: Six recovery assessment centres are to be opened in Christchurch's eastern suburbs.

Locations of these will be released later today and more are planned for next week.

Civil Defence said there would be changes to welfare centres in Rangiora, Burnside and Windsor with all those people there to be offered alternative accommodation options and psyco social services.

Pioneer Stadium is to be the only centre to be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and it can accommodate up to 600 people.

10.52am: A mobile shower will be deployed into needy Christchurch areas on Monday.

The 18 stand shower unit will head into areas where there are currently no water services and those areas will be released later.

10.50am: Over 1000 portaloos were distributed across Christchurch city yesterday.

A further 62 will be distributed today and another 960 are on order, Civil Defence controller John Hamilton said this morning.

Mr Hamilton said that 1750 chemical toilets were delivered into the city's eastern areas yesterday and a further 3500 were expected next week while another 20,000 were on order.

10.49am: Police have released the names of seven further victims of the Christchurch quake.

They are:

Joan Dorothy Wield, 76
Graham Wield, 77
Matthew Stuart Mceachen, 25
Neil Glyn Stocker, 58
Haruthaya Luangsurapeesakul, 32, of Thailand
Scott William Emerson Lucy, 38
Dr Maysoon Mahdi Abbas, 61.

10.45am: Orion energy has reported 89 percent of its customers have power after the Christchurch earthquake.

Civil Defence controller John Hamilton said there wee 22,000 still to be reconneced.

Mr Hamilton said the target was 91 per cent to be restored by tomorrow.

"They are doing a fantastic job."

10.35am: By the end of next week a plan would be in place to get all Christchurch kids back into schools, even those without a school to go to, Education Minister Anne Tolley says.

The Education Ministry was working with about 50 schools which could be ready to open but must wait for measures like structural engineering checks, Ms Tolley told Radio New Zealand this morning.

"(We are) looking to get them open early next week, Monday and Tuesday hopefully."

10.27am: Every morning at seven Geoff Horesburgh plays the bagpipes to raise the spirits of the rescue workers in Christchurch.

10.06am: Two more bodies were recovered from the Christchurch earthquake rubble overnight.

Both bodies were removed from the collapsed Pyne Gould Corporation.

9.57am: An Australian police officer patrolling Lyttelton has bumped into a mate he hadn't seen in 17 years.

9.44am: Australian cricketer Shane Warne will be part of an earthquake appeal cricket match on Sunday, March 13 at Wellington's Basin Reserve.

9.37am: Around $38 million has been paid out in benefits or assistance since the quake, the Government says.

8.32am: Just 22 per cent of Christchurch remains without water.

Officials said this morning with 78 per cent of water services restored, the aim was to have the remainder reconnected over the next week.

There were currently 120 repair crews working on the system which equated to 400 people and they were working seven days a week.

8.21am: Displaced Christchurch residents could be accommodated in a tent villages while their homes are repaired.

A Civil Defence spokesperson said one tented village - from Australia - could accommodate up to 400 people and includes ablution blocks.

Officials would try and locate the village as close as possible to residents' houses.

8.19am: About 60,000 tonnes of silt remains to be cleared from Christchurch streets before the first sweep of the city is complete.

Crews removed 50,000 tonnes of silt from Christchurch streets yesterday.

About 218,000 tonnes of silt has been removed since the February 22 earthquake, most of which has been trucked to Burwood landfill.

More than 420 contractors are taking part in the operation, led by City Care and Fulton Hogan.

8.17am: Around 22,000 Christchurch homes remain without any form of power.

The majority of those without power - about 15,000 homes - are in the New Brighton and Dallington areas.

It is hoped, however, to have power to about half of those by Sunday.

8.16am: The Christchurch City Council says it will text locals to keep them up to date, following last month's devastating earthquake which struck the city.

It was the first time telecommunications companies had helped provide critical information to people, who were reliant on cellphones, during a declared emergency in New Zealand, the council said.

The regular messages will include information about community services, such as welfare centres.

There might be a few initial hiccups but the companies, Telecom, Vodafone and 2degrees, were doing their best to reach as many people as possible.

The council said it was important people, who received the text messages, used the contact numbers supplied to get assistance instead of replying directly, as replies went directly back to the telecommunications companies, not the council's civil defence branch.

Mobile cellphone charging devices would soon be available at the three main welfare centres in Christchurch.

7.51am: Looting in the Christchurch CBD appears to have abated, say police.

7.48am: The Christchurch quake has caused around $300 million damage to the city's roads, Transport Minister Steven Joyce says.

6.57am: Some international search and rescue teams will begin pulling out of Christchurch today, with the rescue operation changing to one of recovery.

A 3.4-magnitude aftershock rumbled the city at 3.24am.

6.33am: The death toll from the Christchurch earthquake has risen to 163 overnight.

One hundred of the dead are believed to be foreign nationals.

6.20am: A team of searchers are preparing to enter the collapsed spire of the ChristChurch cathedral, where as many as 20 bodies are believed to be buried, and beginning to clear debris there.

-Stuff.co.nz and agencies

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