tvnz.co.nz is providing live updates on the earthquake. Here's what happened throughout Saturday. Live updates continue here overnight.
11.15pm Aftershocks continue. This one reported
at 10:38pm, measured at 4.9, same location (30 km
north-west of Darfield) but only 8km deep.
11.00pm Another aftershock reported at 10.34pm. Magnitude 4.6, location 30 km south-east of Darfield and depth 20 km. Worried residents have headed to the emergency shelters .
9.50pm The Ministry of Education says it is not aware of any major damage to schools or services in the Canterbury region following today's massive earthquake. Canterbury University is closed until September 13. Lincoln is closed on September 6. Christchurch Polytechnic is closed until further notice. Another announcement will be made on Sunday.
9.40pm A loss of electricity is a concern to farmers. Federated Farmers of North Canterbury would appreciate any loan generators - contact Neil Stott on 03 318 8577.
9.00pm Another aftershock at 8.54pm. 4.6 on the scale and 60 km west of Christchurch.
8.15pm Weather analyst Philip Duncan says overnight weather won't be too bad in Christchurch but gale-force winds are expected to pick up by tomorrow evening. Those winds could be strong enough to bring down damaged buildings.
8.00pm A central city business manager believes
the full extent of the damage won't be revealed until inner city
cordons are lifted. General Manager of the Central City Business
Association, Paul Lonsdale, says a lot of people won't be aware of
the damage. He says owners of businesses in the city haven't been
able to get past the cordons so they don't know how bad it really
7.30pm More aftershocks are being felt. A 4.6 quake, 10km west of Christchurch was felt at 7.03pm. A 4.3 quake was felt at 6.54pm, 10km south west of Christchurch at a depth of 12km. These follow two quakes of 3.8 at 6.35pm and 6.38pm, 20km south east of Darfield.
7.15pm Anyone who is without power or feeling unsafe is urged to head to a welfare centre in Christchurch tonight. Welfare centres have been opened at Linwood High School, Burnside High School and Addington Raceway. Prime Minister John Key says anyone who feels alone or frightened now it's dark should head along and spend a night in the company of others.
7.10pm Some of Canterbury's oldest buildings in the city centre have pulled through with just minor damage. Buildings at Christ's College, a school established in 1851, survived the full force of the quake. Spokeswoman Jane Leese says one of the older buildings, in particular, surprisingly suffered little damage.
7.00pm ANZ has made a $1m donation to support Canterbury residents and businesses in the aftermath of today's earthquake. The ANZ and National Banks will also offer a special package of assistance for personal and business customers impacted by the earthquake. It's suspending repayments on all loans for three months, waiving a number of fees, and will consider temporary adjustments to customer lending limits. Westpac has announced a special relief package for customers. It includes deferral of home loan repayments, a temporary overdraft, and interest only payments on loans.
6.40pm Aftershocks still shaking area. Latest was a 3.7 shake at 5.07pm, 20km west of Christchurch.
6.24pm Power has been restored to 90% of the Christchurch urban area and 80% of the rural network.
6.15pm KiwiRail says the Main North Line could be closed for up to three days at Kaiapoi, but it's expected the network will be reopened as far south as Rangiora today.
6.10pm Crews are working to repair Canterbury's railway lines so essential supplies can be delivered. There are plans to bring 300 thousand litres of drinking water into Christchurch from Temuka later tonight. The Main South Line's been cleared, so that can now go ahead.
6.00pm The Prime Minister's estimating the cost of earthquake damage in Canterbury to be around $2 billion. John Key says the Earthquake Commission has enough money to cover it, with $15 billion in assets.
5:45pm Canterbury Police will be supported by
80 Auckland Officers flying in this evening to assist with general
duties and recovery. The CBD will remain shut overnight with Police
manning cordons throughout the area.
5.30pm One person, believed to be a taxi driver, is still in intensive care in Christchurch Hospital with serious injuries; a small number have been treated for fractures and lacerations.
5.20pm There is a formal curfew in place under
Section 88 of the Civil Defence Emergency Act 2002 between the
hours of 7 pm and 7 am. The areas affected by this curfew are the
CBD block between Kilmore Street, Madras Street, Montreal Street
and St Asaph Street, currently cordoned off, and the shopping
centre and township area of Kaiapoi. Anyone found in the CBD will
5.15pm The largest aftershock yet has been felt in Canterbury. The 5.4 magnitude jolt was centred 10 kilometres southwest of Darfield at a depth of 10 kilometres. It struck just before 5pm.
5.10pm Prime Minister is surveying the scene in Christchurch . Key said it will take time before the size of the bill is known but he said it will be substantial.
5.00pm Water remains a major concern with people facing a night without their normal water supply. Residents are urged to check their chimneys before lighting their fires.
4:30pm A fire has broken out in a CBD building but was brought under control quickly. It's believed to have been caused by a surge as power supply returned, in combination with a gas leak. Residents and businesses are being warned to take care.
4pm Police would like to reiterate to the public that the CBD is shut and cordoned off and is likely to remain that way for most of the weekend. Police say all bars and businesses will be shut so there is no reason to come into town. They say there is extensive damage and some buildings are still unstable.
3.30pm People making claims for commercial buildings and businesses should go straight to their private insurers. Commercial businesses are covered not just for damage but also for business interruption if they have taken out business interruption cover.
3.25pm Chris Ryan clarified that Earthquake Commission covers damage to homes, including subsidence, of $100,000 and contents to $20,000. After that people's personal insurance will cover the rest.
3.20pm Chris Ryan CEO of Insurance Council says people should get claims in asap no matter how small they are. If they have to leave their houses, they should try and secure their houses as best as possible. People should take photographs and get evidence of the damage they have experienced and send that in too.
3.15pm People being warned to conserve water and not to flush toilets. Water is coming back on in some areas. Sewer mains have been shattered and the waste water system is still not functioning in all areas.
2:42pm The number to call for insurance claims is 0800 DAMAGE or through ECC website .People have 3 months to claim. Damage could hit $1 billion dollars according to Ian Simpson of the Earthquake Commission. First $100,000 of damage to residential property is covered. 100,000 claims expected. Message to people looking at making claims is make them as soon as possible in the next week.
2.41pm Christchurch Hospital numbers have been
steady. The hospital is functioning well and is fully staffed. Most
people have had mainly minor injuries. The number of cardiology
admissions to the hospital is higher than normal.
2.40pm Lincoln Maternity Hospital and Burwood Birthing Unit will be closed until further notice. Women who were intending to birth at the units prior to the earthquake should go to Christchurch Women's Hospital.
2.36pm Canterbury University will be closed for a week so it can be assessed for safety. Campus will reopen on Monday September 13.
2.29 Welfare centres are being set up around Christchurch. Mayor Bob Parker says preparations are being made at Linwood High School, Aranui High School, and Addington Raceway. There is also one at Burnside High.
2:20pm Contractors clearing streets in Christchurch. The only people being allowed into the CBD are contract workers. Any moment there is an aftershock any building could come crumbling down, so very dangerous area. State of emergency means the authorities have power to arrest people who come into the area.
2.15pm Biggest earthquake since 1931. Strong aftershocks still being felt. Last one, at 12.18pm, was 4.0 on Richter scale and 10km east of Darfield, 30km west of Christchurch.
1:55pm Could be up to two days before all power is restored to the region. However 80% of houses should have power by nightfall Saturday.
1:40pm Some supermarkets are open - these are: Countdown Rangiora, Fresh Choice Parkland and Super Value Leeston. This is in addition to Countdown on Church Corner and Ferrymead, Fresh Choice Barrington, and Super Value on Stanmore Road, in Oxford, Woolston and Sumner.
1:30pm Airport is open, but people should expect long backlogs. People should contact their airlines because their flight may be put off until tomorrow.
1.15pm Latest roundup from Civil Defence:
- A state of emergency remains in place in Christchurch and Selwyn District. Selwyn, Waimakariri and Timaru have activated their emergency operation centres
- There are power outages in the northwest of the city although the CBD is operating normally.
- Water and sewage have been affected in several regions. Residents should conserve water. All Selwyn residents are being asked to conserve water, but especially in Rolleston where the supply is contaminated.
- Christchurch hospital is functioning normally.
- All State highways are currently open to traffic.
- Lyttleton Tunnel has been checked and reopened.
- Ashley River Bridge has had an initial check by a structural engineer and is open.
- The only current closure is on SH74 on the ring route around Christchurch. It is closed at Bromley due to major road damage.
- The rail network across the South Island remains closed, except for Dunedin
- Christchurch Airport remains closed.
1.02pm An historic pub in the South Canterbury town of Temuka has been badly damaged and the proprietor is unsure when it will reopen. Damage to the town of Temuka, 18km north of Timaru, was not widespread but both the Royal Hotel and the St Joseph's Catholic Church were damaged. South Canterbury as a whole appeared to escape severe damage.
1.01pm More on the storm heading for the area: WeatherWatch.co.nz said strong winds would increase during the day, with severe gales gusting to 130kmh possible later. MetService is also watching the storm, issuing a severe gale warning for the city predicting winds averaging 65kmh (gale force) with gusts to 130kmh. "Winds of that speed can be damaging and with many buildings extensively damaged it could cause a major headache for emergency services," a spokesman said.
12.40pm The Earthquake Commission says claims are expected to run into hundreds of millions of dollars.
12.29pm Civil Defence Minister John Carter says people will be evacuated from Christchurch CBD this afternoon though the exact scale of that is not yet known.
12.25pm The earthquake's scale and the amount of damage has made the story lead news across the world including on the BBC, CNN and Australian media websites. Australia has a particular interest due to the number of Australians who visit the city on their way to South Island skifields.
11.52am PM John Key said he was very concerned when he heard the news. He received a text from his sister who lives in the city. He said "we are very happy and blessed" that no one died.
He said: "We are here to support them. We are not going to let Christchurch suffer this great tragedy on their own."
Key said it would be some time before the scale of the damage is known and it was likely central government money would be needed to help rebuild infratructure in the region.
11.49am Prime Minister John Key is arriving at Whenuapai airport in Auckland to fly to Christchurch. A team of 20 search and rescue personnel have just taken off in an RNZAF Hercules from the base and are on their way to Christchurch.
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11.33am A round up of the latest information
from authorities in Canterbury:
Road closures include Manchester Street, Hereford St, Cashel Street and Gloucester Street. Police are telling people not to come in to the CBD.
Power will back back on for 90% of Christchurch city by 6pm. Christchurch and Banks Peninsula, as well as rural Canterbury between the Waimakariri River in the north and the Rakaia River in the south is without power.
Christchurch Airport is still closed but an announcement is due around 1pm.
Christchurch Hospital is on generator power and is being over-run.
The Rail network remains largely closed across the South Island. There has been damage to a 5km stretch of track near Kaiapoi. Less extensive track damage has also been reported near Belfast and at Rolleston.
The Lyttleton Tunnel has been inspected and is safe.
11.26am Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker compared the scale of the damage to an iceberg: though the city is not levelled, the amount of damage under the surface could be very severe. He said residents must conserve water, not flush toilets, and not come out and "rubber-neck".
11.16am New aftershocks are being felt in central Christchurch. Details of the original quake have been amended slightly to 7.0 on the richter scale (Later upgraded again to 7.1), with the centre at a depth of 10km and 41km west of Christchurch.
10.58am Central Christchurch has now been cordoned off to prevent people going into the CBD to view the damage or attempt to get to shops or businesses. Mayor Bob Parker told ONE News it is not clear when water supplies could be turned back on.
10.31am Civil Defence Minister John Carter has confirmed there are two serious injuries: One man has been seriously injured by a falling chimney, another person was badly cut by falling glass. He said: "We are extremely lucky as a country that we have no fatalities. We are blessed actually."
10.29am A state of emergency declared in the Waimakiriri area could last for seven days, says chief executive Jim Palmer. The worst hit area is Kaiapoi - much of the area is without water and sewerage.
10.28am Striking radiographers have abandoned their industrial action to respond immediately to the earthquake. Staff in the city were scheduled to take part in a partial strike today but the union says they're turning up to work. A spokeswoman says they will also not proceed with the strike in Canterbury scheduled for Tuesday.
10.26am Petrol seems to be running low in Christchurch. Eyewitness Graeme Price says Shell Linwood is out of petrol and BP Dellington is closed. BP Linwood is open but it's not certain how long it will stay that way, he says.
10.25am MetService has issued a severe weather warning for much of the South Island, including Canterbury. The worst of the storm will hit the area tomorrow. It will bring heavy rain and severe gales. Temperatures tonight could fall as low as minus 2 in some parts of the region.
10.12am Orion Power expects 90% of power to be restored by nightfall tonight. Supplies to the airport and Brighton have been restored.
10.10am A resident of Kaiapoi, just north of Christchurch, told ONE News: "It went on so long, I have never felt an earthquake like that before. You just thought, how could the building survive? I was just screaming for my flatmate."
10.06am A State of Emergency has now been declared, giving authorities extra powers to handle the crisis following the earthquake.
The Prime Minister is expected to arrive in the area at about 2pm.
Christchurch Airport is likely to open this afternoon after an assessment showed there is no serious damage to the runway or terminal.
9.57am Ron Crone at Kairaki Beach tells ONE News there are holes in the road in the area. Power is out and his toilet overflowed. He described the quake as "violent". He and his partner and dog sheltered in a doorway and said his house was now "buggered, it's gone".
He said: "It is like the movies. There is a bit of carnage, power poles are down everywhere."
9.55am Telecom says mobile networks in the South Island are holding up well but is asking people to make only emergency calls. Wireless landline phones will not work where power is out and customers are advised to use old-style wired phones where available.
9.54am There are now reports that the earthquake was felt as far south as Invercargill and Gore.
9.48am Water is returning to parts of Christhchurch, but many areas are still without supplies.
9.42am Christcurch Airport about to re-open, says ONE News reporter Hannah Ockleford.
9.28am A state of emergency could be declared within the next two hours following the massive earthquake near Christchurch this morning, the government said.
9.15am The size of the quake is downgraded to 7.1 on the richter scale, from 7.4.
9.08am Police advise people to stay out of Christchurch city and look at shutting the CBD down.
8.38am A man has suffered serious injuries after being hit by a falling chimney when a massive earthquake struck Christchurch early this morning. He is intensive care.
8.03am Christchurch's Mayor has asked residents to check on the health of their neighbours but to otherwise stay indoors following this morning's massive earthquake.
Bob Parker said there were concerns about the city infrastructure, including water and sewage. Residents were asked to conserve water and not go out far. "The one thing I would ask people to do is just to check on your neighbours, particularly in areas where there are elderly people and others who would have been perhaps startled," he told Newstalk ZB.
7.55am Large aftershock, at magnitude 5.2, brings the total to about dozen aftershocks.
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