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Christchurch quake bill could rise by $6 billion

Published: 5:46AM Wednesday June 15, 2011 Source: ONE News

The latest earthquakes to strike Christchurch could add another $6 billion to the cost of the city's rebuild.

International catastrophe modelling firm EQECAT has advised the insurance industry of the figure which is in addition to the estimated $15 to $20 billion already identified for repairs from the previous powerful quakes.

Insurance experts in New Zealand are already warning that some parts of Christchurch may become uninsurable, with signs that the global reinsurance market is now struggling to cope with the extent of its exposure to earthquake risk in this country.

Anxiety is running high in Christchurch's eastern suburbs as residents face another daunting clean up amid the threat of further strong earthquakes.

Homes, streets and businesses were badly damaged by liquefaction after Monday's 5.6 and 6.3 magnitude quakes.

This morning's final quake briefing said Civil Defence operations will be wound up later today when a decision will also be made regarding the ongoing need for the welfare centre.

Meanwhile, Rachael Fonotia from the Aranui Community Trust told TV ONE's Breakfast the resilience of residents is wearing thin.

"It's really disheartening for people, they've got back into their homes after February, they've cleaned up, they've done the best they can," she said.

"They're anxious for the land reports to be delivered and again liquefaction is in their homes and on the streets. The roads are a mess again."

She said people are anxious about the possibility of another large earthquake, with GNS saying this morning the risk has increased following Monday's aftershocks.

"It is easy for people to say 'why don't people get out of Christchurch if it's that bad?'" she said.

"But people have an investment here, they have a commitment here, they have a history here and it's just not that easy for people to move out of Christchurch.

"I know safety comes first but there's just that connection to their homes and their environment and people don't want to leave."

An online poll on yesterday asked people whether they would consider leaving Christchurch. Of those who live in the area, just 5% said they were abandoning their city. That compared to 64% of people from outside the region who said if they did live there they would be leaving.

She said the Government needs to move faster to provide residents with information about the future of their properties, and wants residents to be included in the decision making process

"Communities need that opportunity to sit at a table and have a voice and have input into what's going to happen for the future of Christchurch."

Read the key points of this morning's briefing here.

Cold and shaky night

Three thousand homes in the eastern suburbs also had to deal with another cold night without electricity.

Orion said it made good progress in reconnecting 1000 customers overnight, and has restored power to almost all of Christchurch outside the CBD's four avenues.

Less than 150 customers will be without power overnight outside the CBD, Orion says.

Orion said four diesel generators have been installed on their network, supplying power to approximately 1,000 homes in Avonside and Bexley.

Generators will supply power until the network is repaired.

Additional help is arriving from around New Zealand, with specialist cable fault locators and jointers going to Christchurch to assist.

Meanwhile, 90% of Christchurch homes have a water supply, but a city-wide notice to boil water remains.

It's hoped the remaining homes will have water by the end of the week.

Volunteer groups are being co-ordinated to clear silt when water levels subside and roads have been made safe, while residents who are able are to are being encouraged to clear silt from their properties and move it to the roadside for collection by contractors.

Schools re-open

Eighty-seven schools reopened this morning after a day off for students, and more than fifty more will be open by the end of the week.

Nine schools have been seriously damaged by liquefaction. Education Minister Anne Tolley said they are in a worse state than they were after the February quake and the Minitsry is working with them.

Parents are advised to check the Ministry of Education website or check directly with schools.

Managing the rebuild

The Prime Minister's being told to front up and explain exactly which earthquake-affected Christchurch residents face having to abandon their homes.

John Key's indicated thousands will have to leave because of damage and land instability, but has not named the areas or said when the information will be made public.

Labour's Clayton Cosgrove said the Prime Minister's lack of detail is not helpful for residents who want answers about their future.

He said it would be far better for Key to articulate a timeframe for when the information will be released, and offer assurances that it will be definitive so those affected know what their options are.

An expert in liquefaction said any rebuilding on badly damaged areas would require significant work which may not be worth the cost.

Canterbury University Associate Professor Misko Cubrinovski said it is technically possible to rebuild on land damaged by significant amounts of silt and water - but it would be a long and costly project.

- with BusinessDesk and Newstalk ZB

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