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Biggest aftershocks felt since quake hit

Published: 6:32PM Monday September 06, 2010 Source: ONE News/NZPA

The biggest aftershocks since Saturday's earthquake have hit the Canterbury region tonight, the 5.4 and 5.2 magnitude tremors striking at 11:24pm and 11:40pm respectively. Others followed within minutes.

Aftershocks are continuing to rock Christchurch, the numbers well past 100 since the big one on Saturday, making for a nervous time as tremors threaten to topple already damaged buildings.

Experts warn there could be many more to come.

Already, 100,000 homes have been damaged but power was able to be restored to many homes today, with only about 1000 still without it tonight

Over 400 Orion Power staff and local contractors worked on the network. Orion Energy hoped it would be restored to all of Canterbury by the end of the week.

However they are warning residents not to demolish their homes, without first disconnecting power.

Chief executive Roger Sutton said demolition crews were putting themselves and the rest of the power system at risk if they did so.

Meanwhile, the state of emergency in Christchurch has been extended as the city deals with the consequences of the earthquake.
It is due to stay in place until midday Wednesday.

After three days of intense work emergency services were starting to feel the stress of holding the city together and the arrival of the army this morning brought much needed supplies and assistance.

The army has been helping with evacuations and providing alternative accommodation and is on standby for further assistance.

Civil Defence staff also repaired more than 100 leaking water pipes today and said less than five percent of properties were without water.

Inner city locked out

Tens of thousands of workers were today locked out of the inner city in Christchurch, when it would usually  be bustling with commuters and people rushing to and from work.

Throughout the CBD the footpaths remain eerily empty, with business owners the only ones allowed back in to assess the damage.

Many businesses cannot open until the damage from the earthquake is fully assessed and buildings deemed safe but the cordon marking no-go areas in the CBD has this evening been reduced and will be further reduced from 8am tomorrow, with Cathedral Square and Colombo Street reopening.

The area from Gloucester to Armagh Streets has been reopened with all buildings in the area inspected.

Civil Defence said building owners and the public now have full access except to unsafe buildings which have been isolated by barriers and tagged with yellow and red paint.

City council rescue manager John Buchan said there would be full access for building owners and the public, except where damaged and unsafe buildings have been taped off.

"We do however urge that people exercise caution as aftershocks continue," he said.

The area to remain cordoned off is bounded by Hereford Street, St Asaph St, side streets off the east of Colombo St, and Madras Street.

Aftershocks combined with high winds continued to cause more problems and heartache for business owners today.

Some sat on the roadside in tears as their stores in the Christchurch suburb of St Albans were torn down.

The row of about half a dozen shops, as well as second floor apartments, on the intersection of Cranford and Westminster Streets, were condemned yesterday after the initial quake wrecked roofs and walls.

Kaiapoi assessed

Much of the focus turned from the central business district in Christchurch to surrounding areas today.

In Kaiapoi, 20 minutes north of Christchurch, teams of engineers were out assessing the Waimakariri River's flood banks and the damage to homes.

The Fosters, who live in Kaiapoi now own a house that is worthless.

"It is very devastating...and we didn't think a brand new house, when it was built so strong, that this could happen," said Hugh Foster.

Water pipes, emptying sewer wells and restoring communication lines were a priority for crews in the area.

Rain is forecast so contractors spent the day frantically trying to clear the curbs and drains of silt. They say if they don't, flooding will be a major risk.
"It could be very damaging ... extremely damaging& it could get in all these areas with cracks and really ruin the whole foundation of things," said Mike Power, roading contractor.

Darfield back in shape

Downtown Darfield, 45km west of Christchurch, is almost back to business as locals try to restore normality.

The earthquake wrought destruction to the region and Darfield, being just 10 kilometres from the epicentre, catapulted the sleepy Canterbury Plains town into world news.

Today as most businesses reopened the main street bustled with locals coming in for a chat and visitors driving out to look at the damage.

Travelling down the straight country roads, with the sun shining and snow-capped mountain ranges gleaming in the distance, devastation was hard to find.

The odd fallen chimney and loose bricks was visible from the main road but those expecting to see flattened houses and crushed cars were mistaken - Darfield, population about 1500, fared better than inner-city Christchurch and Kaiapoi.

There was little damage obvious from the outside but still the stream of onlookers proved good for business.

At Darfield Cafe and Bakery customers queued almost out of the shop.

Roads safety checked

Canterbury roads and bridges have been repeatedly checked for damage as aftershocks continue to hit the region.

"So far there is nothing from these assessments that indicate that the (after)shocks, some as high as five on the Richter scale, have caused further damage to the region's state highways," New Zealand Transport Agency Canterbury state highways operations manager Peter Connors said.

"These (checks) are essential as the safety of all road users is paramount," he said.

State Highway 74 between Pages Rd and Metro Pl has been closed for foundation repairs.

Connor said the work "could take some time" and it was not clear when the road might re-open.

Chaney's Rd on-ramp to SH1 was also closed, with repairs due to start tomorrow.

What's the most amazing tale of survival you have heard of or experienced in this quake? Email with an image if possible.

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  • gordy said on 2010-09-09 @ 13:59 NZDT: Report abusive post

    Im my 51 years on this earth I have never felt so first thoughts was we had been hit by a nuclear bomb and it was Armageddon. Never ever want to experience it again

  • schicken said on 2010-09-08 @ 19:15 NZDT: Report abusive post

    I thought the same thing initially. However, another quake big enough to close or shift the cracks further is likely to be heard first and all the kids will most likely be fine. If a child does get swallowed up, I'm probably not going to have huge empathy for the media coverage or their parents, but until then, let the region have a little bit of fun. Education about health risks regarding contaminated water may be a good idea for all. :)

  • thinkaboutit said on 2010-09-06 @ 23:06 NZDT: Report abusive post

    More great coverage tonight TVNZ especially highlighting the situation at individual community levels where people reported they felt abandoned. All credit to those organising themselves into community working groups at this level despite this. Arguably the recovery process would be greatly enhanced if these community groups were psychologically and practically supported by establishing official coordination centres at individual community levels.

  • Madeleine Ware said on 2010-09-06 @ 17:31 NZDT: Report abusive post

    You're making some good points here. Perhaps some of the donations could be towards purchasing and setting up storage of these sorts of things. Individuals are also responsible for making their own preparations. I clean and keep old 3L juice bottles filled with water. Every now and then I water my house plants with one and refill it to refresh it.

  • Madeleine Ware said on 2010-09-06 @ 17:25 NZDT: Report abusive post

    Why are they buying water? Aren't there several tankers about the city giving it away?