'Thousands of homes need to go'

Last updated 20:02 14/06/2011

John Key on the latest Christchurch earthquakes

Liquefaction following June 13 Christchurch earthquake

Backyard pool during aftershock

Christchuch Quake 13/06
DON SCOTT/The Press Zoom
Timeball station, as seen from the air.
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John Key press conference

A graph showing the quakes to have Christchurch since June 13.
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ALL SHOOK UP: A graph showing the quakes to have Christchurch since June 13.

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Christchurch Earthquake 2011

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The death of an elderly man in a Christchurch aged care facility after yesterday's second big earthquake may not be quake-related, say police.

Geoff Hipkins, chief executive of aged care provider Oceania, confirmed the man died in the Resthaven home in the suburb of St Albans early today.

The 88-year-old man fell during yesterday's 2.20pm 6.3 magnitude quake and lost consciousness. The man was seen by a doctor and seemed to recover, but died during the night, Hipkins said.

Tonight police said the death had been referred to the Coroner but may not be directly related to yesterday's earthquake.

"This elderly local gentleman did have a number of health issues however the cause of his death is yet to be determined," Superintendent Dave Cliff, Canterbury police district commander, said.

"It is not necessarily linked to the earthquake."

Cliff said full policing services continued across the city.

Reassurance patrols staffed by out-of-town officers had been active in the eastern suburbs and hills areas, knocking on doors, helping people out including shovelling silt.

"We've been checking on the wellbeing of residents, helping people remove silt or belongings and undertaking traffic patrols to ensure people are as safe as possible."

Cliff said traffic around the city had been generally well behaved and people were taking advice to stay off the roads unless required to travel.

"Police urge everyone to continue to take care on earthquake damaged roads, keep an eye out for pedestrians and cyclists and be safety aware. Several roads and bridges remain closed, and liquefaction, boulders and holes are present on many streets," Cliff said.


Thousands of Christchurch homeowners will have to abandon their homes, Prime Minister John Key says.

He met with Mayor Bob Parker, earthquake recovery boss Roger Sutton, Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee and engineers from Tonkin and Taylor in Christchurch today to assess the fresh damage.

Key said yesterday's double whammy of aftershocks shifted the land two to three millimetres in some areas, but would not slow the recovery operation and a state of emergency was not required for the city.

While the Government had a "clear picture" of what land would have to be abandoned, Key refused to name the areas or put a timeline on when the information would be available to the public.

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"We want to be in a position to be able to communicate with homeowners and give them some clarity, not only about the position that relates to their land but also the position in terms of what happens next. I think that will be the big question that homeowners will have," he said.

The substantial drop in land levels, particularly in the eastern suburbs, made remedial work even harder and may widen the number of homes that could not be rebuilt, he said.

The aftershocks also vindicated the decision not to allow people into the most damaged parts of the central business district, he said.

''I know that's been deeply frustrating for people, and actually I understand that completely, but our fear has always been that if there was a large aftershock we may lose a lot of lives as a result of that. So it's been a difficult time for Cantabrians and again, we appreciate that.''

Key urged anxious homeowners to be patient.

Speaking at the same press conference, Sutton announced that 75 previously undamaged buildings in the red zone would need to be demolished in the wake of yesterday's quakes.

He said the demolition process would have to be accelerated to ensure red zone workers were operating in a safe environment within the cordon.

Sutton could not name any of the buildings that have been added to the demolition list but said both the Christ Church Cathedral and the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament sustained significant damage yesterday.


Parker said he was not worried about an exodus from city.

He said if people needed to leave, that would be the right decision for them and "we should support them in that".

"The vast majority of people in this city love it," he said. "We know we will get through this stage. We will rebuild our communities, some may not be in the same places though."

Parker said he was "already feeling better about life than I was yesterday".

"Although it was a terrible traumatic event there was no lives lost."

Parker said the Christ Church Cathedral would have to be taken down before it was reconstructed.

"We are demanding safety and we need to know our buildings will protect us ... for generations to come."

Most buildings damaged were already damaged. "That's why the cordon is there."

The quakes had probably made some decisions easier for building owners, he said.

Parker said an incredible amount of work was done in the city overnight.

Superintendent Dave Cliff said it was a very quiet night in regards to crime and domestic violence.

Thirty army personnel worked with police to provide reassurance patrols in eastern suburbs.

The additional 140 police staff that came after February quake are still in Christchurch and will be for some time.


A new fault, south of the Port Hills fault, is now believed responsible for yesterday's major aftershocks in Christchurch.

GNS Science seismologists said the newly-confirmed fault had already generated a number of quakes since the deadly February 22 event.

Dr Bill Fry said the dominant energy in yesterday's magnitude 5.7 and 6.3 aftershocks had been horizontal, compared with the vertical action in February's 6.3 quake.

This meant they were felt differently.

Unfortunately for Cantabrians, rather than reduce the statistical probability of another big quake, yesterday's violent shakes will, for a time, increase the risk of another large aftershock of similar magnitude.

However, GNS Science hazard modeller Dr Matt Gerstenberger said that elevated level of risk would not last long.

Yesterday's largest earthquakes were located close to the coast and slightly south of the eastern tip of the Port Hills fault, which generated the magnitude-6.3 quake on February 22.


GNS Science has upgraded the strength of yesterday's earthquakes.

The largest earthquake has been upgraded to magnitude 6.3, with a shallower depth of 6km.

The 2.20pm quake was originally analysed as 6.0 in magnitude at a depth of 9km.

The 1.01pm tremor has also been upgraded to 5.7, and was at a depth of 10km - not 11km - new GNS figures show.

The quakes collapsed buildings, leaving homes without power and water, and caused widespread liquefaction.

GNS Science seismologist Dr Bill Fry said the upgraded magnitude reflected analysis of local, regional and more distant New Zealand data.

"It's quite a quick determination but it includes a lot more data than we had for the solution yesterday."

Parker said the fact yesterday's two big quakes had been upgraded did not change anything for him.

"The numbers are immaterial to me. Whatever the number it's what it does that matters."
Parker said the upgrade was interesting academically, but he dealt "with reality".

"It changes nothing for me," he said.


The Earthquake Commission (EQC) has confirmed the 6.3 quake as a new event for insurance purposes.

Chief executive Ian Simpson said the latest aftershocks had "hardened resolve" to get the job done.

People who had new, or worsened, damage as a result of yesterday's aftershocks would need to lodge a new claim with EQC within three months. The deadline for claims for the latest aftershock was September 13, 2011.

There was now 12 separate earthquake events classified for insurance purposes, since the first Canterbury quake on September 4, last year.


A team of engineers this morning entered the red zone to re-check all city-centre buildings, following the quakes.

Dozens of buildings sustained more damage yesterday and 75 additional buildings would have to be demolished.

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) interim deconstruction manager Warwick Isaacs said several inner-city buildings had collapsed in the magnitude 6.3 aftershock, including some that were previously undamaged.

The 26-storey Grand Chancellor and the Harcourts building had new damage and several significant buildings appeared to be on a lean.

Every building in the red zone would have to be checked again and temporary access would be suspended until at least the end of the week, Isaacs said.


The $5.5b set aside by the Government to rebuild Christchurch may need a top-up after yesterday's two big aftershocks.

Finance Minister Bill English said the "first impressions" of damage in Christchurch was that "the problems we already know might have got a bit worse".

"Places that have had liquefaction before have got a bit worse and there is a bit more destruction in the central business district," English said.

He told Parliament that it was "not entirely clear" how much the aftershocks had added to the cost to the Government.

"We're working away on the major decisions that need to be made in Christchurch and the cost was always a bit unpredictable," he said.

"There was already big expenditure that had to be committed to Christchurch and maybe there is a bit more with this earthquake. [But] I think we're all a bit more worried about the psychological impact on the people of Christchurch than the Government's Budget.''

English said the Earthquake Commission had acted quickly after the February quake to get re-insurance back in place and it had enough funding to cover further claims.


Up to 60 people were treated by Christchurch Hospital's emergency department in the five hours after the first earthquake, and 16 of those were admitted to hospital.

Four people had suffered moderate to serious injuries, and two remained in hospital in stable conditions today, she said.

Twelve people had chest pains and nine of those were admitted, Milne said.

No patients needed intensive care.

There had been a trickle of minor injuries today.

The health board is urging people to keep warm and not stay in their homes if they do not have power, due to the cold.

Three Christchurch residents were treated for hypothermia last night. All three had pre-existing medical conditions.

They were amongst 55 emergency incidents dealt with by St John ambulance staff in the shaken city. Ambulances also battled difficult road conditions, in particular pot holes and liquefaction.

Extra ambulance officers from outside Christchurch were being called in to help the service and were due to arrive this week.

Meanwhile, the Wainoni ambulance station had been closed and resources moved to Cowles Stadium.

Health Minister Tony Ryall said health staff were working tirelessly.

"It's hard to say people are coping, people have been on edge for the last few months and the earthquakes yesterday make it a lot harder for everybody, but everybody's there working and trying to do their best for their neighbours."

Hospital buildings throughout the city are still being inspected but no serious structural issues have been identified.

Christchurch Hospital's Riverside block's fourth and fifth floors are closed because of problems with emergency fire alarm warning systems.

Most services will resume as normal from tomorrow but radiology services are limited while the machines are recalibrated.


Education Minister Anne Tolley says Christchurch schools experienced more liquefaction yesterday than they did after the February earthquake.

At least six or seven schools in Christchurch's eastern suburbs have suffered significant liquefaction, Education Minister Anne Tolley says.

Most of the damage to Christchurch schools was insignificant but there was significant liquefaction in many eastern suburb schools.

There were also transport issues and water and sewage problems that may prevent some schools running normally.
Parents should check with their school or the Ministry of Education website to see whether their kids could return to school. Several of the most damaged schools were likely to be closed for a few more days, Tolley said.

The Government would look at re-opening learning centres or dual schools as necessary and was particularly mindful of secondary students sitting NCEA, she said.

"I'm confident that in the next couple of days most schools will be open and then we'll be dealing with some quite large issues for the ones that remain closed."

Education recovery teams were on standby to help schools and early childhood education services to support distressed students.

More information can be found at www.minedu.govt.nz/EQNZ.

Meanwhile, Christchurch's universities and polytechnic are assessing whether their buildings are structurally sound before deciding whether to reopen tomorrow, Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce said.

Many of the smaller tertiary education providers were open today but Canterbury University, Lincoln University and Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology were working to make sure their buildings were safe, he said.

Joyce, who is also Infrastructure Minister, said a number of local roads and bridges were closed so it remained difficult to get around Christchurch.

People were being asked to stay off the roads to reduce congestion.

"It's very frustrating for everybody. It's frustrating for road users and it's frustrating for the roading organisations.
It's kind of two steps forward and one step back.''

Funding was available for any emergency roading works, he said.

"What we're seeing is the same sort of weaknesses in the roading system that were there after February 22. More issues with liquefaction and more clean up issues and some more testing around bridges.''

Christchurch Polytech Institute of Technology Madras St and Sullivan Avenue campuses will resume on Monday and CPIT students located at Lincoln University will resume classes tomorrow.


Electricity company Orion has restored power to most Christchurch households and businesses after yesterday's earthquakes.

About 3000 customers outside of the CBD remain without power. They are centered around Avon River and eastern suburbs.

Power is also off to about 2000 premises within the CBD's four avenues, but Orion says many of those properties are unoccupied and had no power before Monday's quakes.

Generators will be used to supply power where necessary.

The electricity company says it is too early to fully quantify the extent of the required repairs and additional support is arriving from around New Zealand.

It is possible that the eastern suburbs will experience more power cuts in the next few days


Water has been restored to much of Christchurch after the aftershocks, but repairs to water supplies east of the Ferrymead bridge are expected to take several days.

The council said this morning that 90 per cent of homes "on the flat" have water back on after teams worked overnight to repair pipes across the city.

However, homes in the hill suburbs still have low water pressure and a citywide boil water notice remains in place.

The Christchurch Wastewater Treatment Plant is operational, but the quakes caused some additional damage to pipes in the eastern suburbs.

Repair teams are working to fix two wastewater pump stations in eastern Christchurch and anyone who still has a chemical toilet or nearby portaloo is urged to use it.

A council spokeswoman said no major flooding issues were reported overnight, but a small section of Purchas St in St Albans had to be closed.

Water was available from tankers near the Breezes Rd and Wainoni Rd intersection in Aranui.


Christchurch residents had a broken and frightening night as tremors shook their beds and nerves.

The largest was a 4.7 magnitude quake, which struck at 2.48am. It was centred within 5km of Lyttelton at a depth of 15km.

A total of 29 aftershocks have rocked the city since yesterday's two powerful earthquakes.

Parker said cleaning up the liquefaction that has popped up around the city was "heart breaking", but Christchurch would pick itself up again.

"It is the clean-up. It is 'oh my God, we've just got to go back and clean this place up again'," he told TV3 this morning.

"I know Cantabs and Christchurch people pretty well and we've got a sunny day. A lot of us will start to feel a little bit better about it."

Parker said morale was "amazingly good".

"I don't know how we've made it this far. And we have and we know that we'll pick ourselves up and move on again. This stuff will pass."

- The Press


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