Strong aftershock frays nerves
The aftershock gave two workers suspended above Christ Church Cathedral "a life changing experience'' this morning.
Ben West of Stoneworks and John Hare of Holmes Consulting were suspended from a crane on a platform inspecting a stone cross on the southern gable of the cathedral when the aftershock struck.
Hare hung onto the stone cross as it swayed back and forth, while West gripped onto the stone gable.
"We just shared a life changing experience, that was all,'' quipped Hare.
West and Paul Cullinane of Stoneworks (pictured) later removed the large stone cross, which had been deemed unsafe even before the aftershock struck.
Frightened inner-city workers fled their offices after a 5.0 magnitude earthquake rattled already frayed nerves in Canterbury this morning.
A 5.0 magnitude earthquake hit at 11.32am. The quake was located 10km southwest of Christchurch, at a focal depth of 9km.
Frazzled nerves were further strained when a 3.8 magnitude aftershock struck at 1.24pm, less than half an hour after many evauated offices and shops in the central city had reopened. It was a shallow quake centred 20km south west of Christchurch at a depth of 5km.
Canterbury Area Commander Superintendent Dave Cliff said police received several calls following the quake.
There were reports of bricks coming off a building at the intersection of Peterborough St and Montreal St. Central Area Commander Inspector Derek Erasmus said there were reports of bricks falling off buildings on Manchester St and Madras St in Christchurch city centre.
Cliff said, given over an hour has now passed since the shake, he did not expect many more calls to police.
Lyttelton tunnel was closed after the quake. It has reopened. The port was operating as usual.
New Zealand Transport Authority area manager Barry Stratton said the tunnel was ``structurally ok'' and the tunnel's electricity generator was operating.
``There are issues with the systems that operate the tunnel affecting among other things the lighting and ventilation systems. Work is being carried to try and resolve these issues as quickly as possible and get the tunnel re-opened.
``Work is being carried to try and resolve these issues as quickly as possible and get the tunnel re-opened,'' he said.
Planes were grounded at Christchurch Airport, and those in the air were in holding patterns while engineers checked the runways for damage. The airport is now fully operational again.
About 300 workers were evacuated from a construction site at the airport.
Westfield's Riccarton Mall was evacuated while building safety checks were completed. Reports that part of the mall's roof had collapsed were incorrect. It has noe reopened.
Dress-Smart is closed for the day. Centre manager Mike Smith said the outlet mall in Hornby was immediately evacuated after losing power in the aftershock and has decided not to reopen today.
"Our power has been restored but unfortunately a lot of our tenants are shaken and badly shaken so it made sense to close.''
Several shops in Cashel Street Mall have lost power and some have closed temporarily including Kathmandu which has a sign up posted saying it is "closed for assessment" until 1pm.
The Christchurch City Council's new civic building was also evacuated.