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Lyttelton hit hard by aftershocks

Published: 6:08PM Wednesday June 15, 2011 Source: ONE News

The latest aftershocks in Christchurch are yet another blow for Lyttelton, already hit hard by February's earthquake.

Lyttelton lost many of its heritage buildings after the major quake earlier this year, but this week's shakes will see it lose many more.

The Holy Trinity Church was levelled in just seconds, with Vicar Neil Struthers standing just metres away.

He ran outside as the ground still shook, telling ONE News the noise was horrendous as the quake hit.

"As the dust began to clear...I said 'Hey the church is down, it's down'."

Now, just the doors of Canterbury's oldest stone church remain standing.

"Even after September when it was red carded, I'd still sneak in in the morning and have prayer in the church 'cos I felt safe in it," Stuthers said.

He told ONE News seeing the church reduced to rubble has been devastating.

"On Monday night I couldn't stop crying and I'm not afraid to admit that I did have a couple of whiskies to bring me some comfort...and they did."

The iconic Timeball Station is another landmark that Lyttelton's going to miss.

After February residents thought it could be salvaged, but on Monday those hopes were dashed as it came tumbling down.

Port braces for hike in insurance

 Lyttelton Port Co., the South Island's busiest port, is bracing itself for "big jump" in insurance costs as it looks to renew its cover, with the current policy set to lapse at the end of the month.

The port operator said Monday's 5.6 and 6.3 magnitude aftershocks had caused further damage to its facilities, and is covered under the current in insurance arrangements.

Lyttelton Port had previously taken a $22.6 million asset writedown after the September earthquake, with no figures relating to the February earthquake available.

"We anticipate a big jump in price but we haven't got a quantum on that yet," said chief executive Peter Davie told BusinessDesk.

"We are looking for smooth overlap, and our brokers have already had some preliminary talks. We're moving in the right direction and we're optimistic about getting that in place."
 
In a statement filed with the NZX late yesterday, the Lyttelton Port said its wharves had sustained further damage as a result of the aftershocks, and new cracks had appeared in areas paved since February, although a full assessment was still in progress.

Among the damage was two container cranes being unseated.

The port is still receiving and delivering containers although stevedoring of container vessels is only expected to resume on Friday, with berthing windows suspended until further notice.

Davie said rail links were not damaged, and the port was in discussions with KiwiRail on the resumption of rail services.

General cargo operations are expected to resume tomorrow, although limits remain on CQ2 for car vessels.

The log yards are operational and log receiving is operating as normal.

Further damage to the port's oil berth was report, including further settlement of land.

The CityDepot facility is operating normally following some realignment of container stacks.
The port is expected to be back to the level of operating capacity before the aftershocks by Monday, Davie said.

LPC shares last traded yesterday at $2.26 on the NZX and are little changed since the start of the year.

- with Business Desk

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