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Every second building in Lyttelton severely damaged

Published: 8:48AM Wednesday February 23, 2011 Source: AAP / ONE News

Lyttelton, the pretty port village that proudly proclaims itself as the gateway to Christchurch, has been devastated by the 6.3 magnitude earthquake that struck New Zealand's second largest city just before 1pm on Tuesday.

Every second building on the town's main street has been severely damaged, with cordons closing off one block considered uninhabitable.

Several of the port town's picturesque buildings have collapsed in a pile of rubble, with its oldest churches among the casualties.

Building facades had fallen away, exposing the intimate insides of family homes, and in the hills above the main road, there are bare spots where houses once stood.

The on-the-ground assessment is the first one since a windy road into the seafarers' settlement was re-opened early on Wednesday morning. Main access through a road tunnel under the Port Hills was cut off after the quake and remains closed.

St John area commander Pete Dawson, a local, told AAP how devastating it was to see his town destroyed.

"Just look at it," he said, waving his arm down London Street. "It's a mess, totally destroyed.

"It's very difficult. We've lost so many of our best buildings and homes," said Dawson, himself now homeless.

The town had also lost two men, one elderly and another young. Dawson said they were walking on a mountain track when they were hit by falling rocks.

A few Australian tourists had been in to seek assistance, but they seemed "like happy chappies" and went on their way.

He said the town enjoyed great patronage from across the Tasman and he hoped that could continue.

"We'll rebuild. Of course, we will. We're resilient people, we're Cantabrians, you know. And we've got a World Cup to look forward to," he said with a laugh.

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  • royalcourtier said on 2011-03-14 @ 21:33 NZDT: Report abusive post

    The whole focus of this debate is wrong. There is no reason for any of these buildings to be demolished. It is not a case of which should be saved, but which should be demolished. There are few which cannot be saved. What people are missing is that if a building is demolished unnecessarily, and illegally, there won't be any insurance. Only the city can approve demolition - civil defence cannot do so.

  • Adam Chc said on 2011-03-09 @ 14:44 NZDT: Report abusive post

    As a small business based near the epicentre in Christchurch we are strugeling to survive and simply can not afford a day off. I also do not think I or my staff are reasdy for a day of mourning yet. I am surprised the govenment would even consider this, it shows how out of touch they are to the impact this is having on business and staff.

  • annej said on 2011-03-08 @ 15:09 NZDT: Report abusive post

    I must congratulate Bob Parker for his leadership and his caring nature to all people in Christchurch and his unfaultering continual contact with his people, a fine leader and the restoration of Christchurch should go through him and the council and not left to those who do not care about the uniqueness of Christchurch, sack Brownlee, send him back where he come from.

  • annej said on 2011-03-08 @ 15:04 NZDT: Report abusive post

    At a time when the suffering is entering an unacceptable time frame of two weeks, John Key throws the baby out with the bath water and states that the government will buy the land off people who have suffered so much,this is akin to pulling the rug from underneath those who are stressed,do not know their fate and have lost loved ones, more thought and empathy is needed from central govt and to deal with the bulk of the people and not just the business sector.Thoughts and prayers to all.

  • Huatoki said on 2011-03-08 @ 13:37 NZDT: Report abusive post

    As with every issue he's dealt with, Brownlee crashes in with an ill-advised and inflammatory attitude, then scuttles behind his officials and is unavailable for comment. Christchurch needs unifying, reassuring and competent leadership and Brownlee consistently fails on all three counts. We need resources, not divisiveness. If the minister cannot deliver them quickly and efficiently, he needs to go. We deserve better.