Christchurch earthquake: Latest information - Thursday

8.59pm: Police tonight named 12 more people who died in last month's Christchurch earthquake.

The latest announcement brings the total number of names released to 83.

The official death toll remains at 166 but police have said they expect it to go higher.

Those named tonight are:

Dr Husam Sabar Al-Ani, 55, of Christchurch (a NZ citizen from Iraq)
Jane-Marie Alberts, 44, of Christchurch
Andrew James Llewellyn Bishop, 33, of Christchurch
Beverley Faye Kennedy, 60, of Christchurch
Kyoko Kawahata, 20, of Japan
Philip John McDonald, 57, of Ashburton
Deborah Ann Roberts, 39, of Christchurch
Emma Shaharudin, 35, of Lincoln, Christchurch
Christine Patricia (Trish) Stephenson, of Christchurch
Lesley Jane Thomson, 55, of Christchurch
Amanda Jayne (Mandy) Uriao, 38, of Christchurch
Julie Kathryn Wong, 37, of Christchurch (dual UK and NZ citizenship)

8.10pm: Prisoners are lending a helping hand feeding hundreds of hungry Christchurch people following last month's earthquake.

Normally over 3300 meals are prepared daily for the 1100 prisoners at Christchurch Men's, Women's and Rolleston prisons. Over the past fortnight those numbers ballooned, with prisoners working in two commercial kitchens at Christchurch Men's preparing meals for many more.

8.08pm: Canterbury District Health Board is urging people under stress following Christchurch's 6.3 earthquake last month not to "tough it out".

It was normal to be "very stressed" at the moment but anyone concerned about themselves or a family member should talk to their doctor, who could call on mental health and counselling services, the DHB said.

More counsellors were being brought in to help.

The distress could last for days or weeks and it was important for people to allow time to heal physically and mentally, the DHB said.

7.27pm: One percent of Christchurch households remain without power today following February 22's magnitude 6.3 earthquake.

About 5800 customers were without power today, down from 7400 yesterday, lines company Orion said.

About 4300 of those were in the CBD, where power supply was problematic due to severe damage.

Civil defence had also requested power be switched off to parts of the CBD for safety reasons, so further cuts were likely, Orion said.

The power network in the eastern suburbs was extremely fragile and people should be prepared for further power cuts there as well. This meant the number of residents without power may fluctuate.

Orion urged residents to use power sparingly.

5.15pm: Christchurch residents will be able to enter a further part of the city centre from tomorrow morning.

From 8am, residents will be able to enter Green Zone 3 which is located to the north east of the central business district.

However Zone 4 which runs from Durham St North to Hagley Park remains off limits.

The zone has been redesignated as a ''orange'' zone, Civil Defence acting national manager Steve Brazier said at today's media briefing.

Some buildings close to major roads had been badly damaged and needed to be stablised.

It would be "a couple of weeks" before people were allowed access, he said.

3.37pm: Police have begun the long process of removing vehicles from within Christchurch's central city 'red zone'.

The vehicles will be taken to a secure area until owners can be identified and contacted, police said.

People with a vehicle inside the cordon can register with the Police Vehicle Recovery team by calling 03 363 7400 or *555 from a mobile.

A vehicle recovery website will be established within the next few days.

Outside the CBD, 1000 red stickered buildings have been re-checked by rescue workers, Assistant National Commander Russell Wood said.

Teams including police officers were visiting the most badly hit buildings outside the badly damaged city centre.

3.31pm: Education Minister Anne Tolley says 110 Christchurch schools will be open by Monday.

There are 80 already open, along with 165 early education centres. Another 200 ECE facilities are expected to be open early next week.

"For schools that can't open in the short-term, alternative plans are being finalised, such as innovative site-sharing with other schools, and we are providing transport for students to attend their temporary school sites,'' Tolley said.

"The Ministry is offering support to schools by establishing distribution centres for learning resources and providing on-line teaching resources to assist teachers and parents. ''

Principals will also be brought in from other areas, she told Parliament.

3.27pm: At this afternoon's press conference Assistant National Commander Russell Wood said said 114 buildings in the CBD were initially identified as needing some sort of deconstruction following the quake.

Work on 47 has been completed, 24 still in progress, 23 still have to be done, he said.

However USAR teams find other buildings during the work, Wood said.

The building deconstruction work could be completed within the CBD by the weekend of 19/20 March, Wood said.

Canterbury Superintendent Dave 

Cliff said the central police station came through the quake and remained operation. The building was constructed in the the late 1960s.

"It was come through the quake as solid as a rock," Cliff said.

Two engineering reports confirmed it '"was absolutely safe".

3.23pm: Providing temporary toilets for quake-affected Christchurch residents is an urgent priority, Civil Defence Minister John Carter said today.

About 60 percent of households can use toilets, but Carter said he understood there would be "considerable anxiety" for those still without a working sewerage system.

"I want to assure those people that Civil Defence is getting temporary toilets into Christchurch and out to affected people as quickly as possible."

Carter said 40,131 portaloos and chemical toilets have been sourced from around the world to meet the demand.

About 1471 portaloos and 4800 chemical toilets have been delivered to affected suburbs so far. A further 5000 chemical toilets are expected to arrive in Christchurch today.

3.18pm: Canterbury Superintendent Dave Cliff confrimed the names of six more people have been released.

Jewel Jose Francisco, 26, of Philippines.
John Joseph O'Connor, 40, of Ireland
Te Taki (Wally) Tairakena, 60, Christchurch
Hui Yun TU, 22, China
Jittra Waithayatadapong, 40, of Thailand
Sisi Xin, 28, of China.

The focus for police now "public reassurance", Cliff said.  Police were going door to door in the suburbs to "make sure people were OK".

2.30pm: The turf at AMI Stadium is "a complete and utter mess," Prime Minister John Key says.

Key visited the quake-hit Christchurch stadium this morning.

He told media after a visit to an earthquake welfare centre in New Brighton that the ground was "clearly in a very bad state of repair".

"Whether it can be fixed and whether the Rugby World Cup can be held there - we have to make that decision soon," Key said.

Reports to RWC Minister Murray McCully that were expected today would not be ready until the weekend.

Once those reports about what work was needed and when it could be finished were delivered, an informed decision would be possible. The International Rugby Board will make the final decision.

"The turf is in a complete mess, so that would have to be fixed up," Key said.

"There is mounds and humps and hollows everywhere on the thing - it's a complete and utter mess."

There would also be questions about accommodation and bars, he said.

Key is now at the to Nga Hau e Wha Marae Recovery Assistance Centre in Aranui.

1.31pm: The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra will perform a free concert for Christchurch residents next month.

NZSO Chief Executive Peter Walls says the NZSO was originally scheduled to play at the Christchurch Town Hall on April 7 as part of its Apotheosis national tour. Although that concert is now cancelled due to safety concerns within the CBD, the orchestra will now perform an hour-long version of that concert at Burnside High School's Aurora Centre, at no charge to the audience.

Mr Walls says several NZSO players have been personally affected by the earthquake disaster, and everyone is motivated to help.

Seating is limited and concert-goers are advised to call NZSO Client Services on 0800 479 674 to reserve places. 

1.20pm: Aftershock at 1.05pm measuring magnitude 3.7, just 5km underground and within 5km of Lyttelton and central Christchurch.

Online feedback from residents reported the quake was long and rumbled on for some time, not surprising considering its shallow depth and close proximity to the city centre.

1.07pm: Internal Affairs Minister Nathan Guy hands over an $8.2 million cheque to the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal.

The money was raised from a special Lotto draw held at the weekend.

1.06pm: Prime Minister John Key has begun meeting residents in quake-hit New Brighton.

11.40am: English rugby officials have ruled out Twickenham as a host venue for the Crusaders' Super Rugby match against the Sharks this month.

The Crusaders had contacted the British about moving the "home" fixture to London because AMI Stadium was damaged in the February 22 earthquake, but the ground is not available.

11.18am: Prime Minister John Key is back in Christchurch today, and is due to begin a walkabout in New Brighton soon. He will also visit Aranui this afternoon.

11am: The Government will this afternoon pass legislation to make March 18 a one-off provincial holiday for Christchurch to mark the national day of mourning.

10.45am: Christchurch residents and business owners have returned to the damaged central city to secure their properties before the public are allowed access again tomorrow. Access into green zone three was allowed for those with proof of address or business ownership. The zone roughly covers the area between Fitzgerald Ave, Bealey Ave, Salisbury St and Montreal St.

10.40am: NZ Lotteries will today hand over an $8.2 million cheque to the Earthquake Appeal. The money is from the sales of tickets in a recent special Lotto draw.

10.05am: Surplus army houses at Waiouru military camp in the central North Island may be used as emergency accommodation for Christchurch earthquake victims.

9.45am:  Today, 70 Australian police will leave Christchurch, and a further 160 will go tomorrow. A fresh contingent of Australian police will replace them.

9am: Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard has announced a boost for the quake-ravaged economy, cutting the OCR by 50 basis points to 2.5 per cent. All of the major banks have dropped their interest rates.

8.30am: Prince Charles is backing calls to preserve heritage buildings damaged in the Christchurch earthquake.

8.18am: Sixty-five Christchurch schools were open by yesterday, and the total is expected to reach 85 by the end of the week. NZQA is working with schools to ensure students' preparation for NCEA is not disadvantaged by the quake.

8.15am: Power is back on for 98 per cent of properties, and the same number should have water by the end of the day.

8.12am: Christchurch drivers are being asked to reduce speed on the city's damaged roads. Vibrations from trucks and heavy vehicles are alarming residents.

8.05am: Christchurch prostitutes report being busy in the aftermath of the quake, saying customers have included search and rescue workers and NSW police officers seeking stress relief.

7.53am: More cordons in the CBD are set to be lifted for business owners and residents today from 8am, and for the public on Friday from 9am.

7.50am: The Government will not make engineering reports on AMI Stadium damage public till it has discussed them with the IRB. The reports are expected to land on Rugby World Cup Minister Murray McCully's desk today.

7.30am: Aftershocks continued to shake Christchurch overnight. The largest was a magnitude 4 at 2.48am today, within 5km of Lyttelton.

7.11am: Mayor Bob Parker hails Prince William's visit as "courageous", especially little more than a month out from his wedding.

7.10am: Mayor Bob Parker says Christchurch needs to be given the chance to host the Rugby World Cup. He believed the city would be ready to host the teams and fans.

6.55am: Mayor Bob Parker says Christchurch landlords who are rising rents are as bad as looters.