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More Chch areas could face red-zone revision

Published: 6:39AM Saturday December 24, 2011 Source: ONE News

There is the possibility more areas of Christchurch could be red-zoned after yesterday's strong earthquakes.

Christchurch was rocked by two powerful tremors in quick succession yesterday afternoon, which forced evacuations from buildings.

Since midnight there have been 23 aftershocks, with the last one just before 2.30pm. Many of today's shakes were around magnitude 3, but the biggest, at 6:37am this morning, was magnitude 5.1.

Most of the quakes were centred around the same area - off the coast, about 10 kilometres east of Christchurch.

The ongoing tremors mean many areas of Christchurch are still dangerous.

The Port Hills pose a risk of rock falls, and authorities are urging people to steer clear, unless they live there.

In the eastern suburbs, many residents are cleaning up liquefaction for the third, fourth or even fifth time this year.

Parklands residents have told ONE News that they want their land rezoned red once and for all.

"We've had enough - we can't keep doing this, this will happen again, and again," said resident Geoff Cooke.

The rezone will mean that instead of getting individual geo-tech reports on each property - the whole area would be zoned uninhabitable.

"We've had this three times now, you've seen the volume of liquefaction coming out of our ground," Cooke adds. 

"It doesn't matter what the foundation types are, they'll keep the houses plum all right, but they'll keep sinking into the ground, it's an absolute waste of time in this area."

In response, the government stated today that engineers will return to the area in the new year once the water subsides - leaving a better picture of the land damage.

Another Parklands resident told ONE News he is all for a rezone.

"Yeah - definitely (want a rezone). I can't see how we can keep doing this again and again," said Greg Frazer.

And it's not just the area's residents that want the rezone.

"I visited (Parklands) this morning. The sight was absolutely heart-breaking," said Lianne Dalziel, Labour's Earthquake Recovery spokesperson and Christchurch East MP.

"The devastation the liquefaction has produced in Parklands - which has been green-zoned - is worse than it is in Bexley, which is red-zoned.

"There is even more flooding and silt than there was following the June earthquake," Dalziel said.

"Even though the houses might be safe, the infrastructure is ruined. And so here we are, the day before Xmas and these people don't have water, they don't have sewerage."

"The council teams are working hard to get things up and running, but residents are still facing real challenges."

In February, the city was hit by a 6.3-magnitude quake that killed 181 people and destroyed much of the downtown area.

New blow

The Prime Minister has a message for Christchurch, acknowledging what residents are going through.

John Key said officials have told him the infrastructure is largely back up and running, but there is liquefaction in some new areas.

Key said the most significant damage from the latest swarm of quakes is clearly the psychological impact.

He said the city's residents have been looking forward to seeing the end of this year, and hoping the situation had calmed since June, so the new shakes are quite a blow to the people of Canterbury.

Key said the government's resolve to see Christchurch rebuilt has not diminished in any way.

Authorities hope to complete most repairs today

Local authorities in Christchurch hope to complete most repairs from the latest earthquakes in time for Christmas Day.

The Earthquake Commission (EQC) has had 1000 calls to its call centre since yesterday so they have upped their staff to 40. The main issues have been chimneys, hot water cylinders and plumbing.

Mayor Parker said infrastructure fared reasonably well considering the force of yesterday's quakes, but repairs are still needed.

He said council staff have also returned from their holidays to assess and fix damage to the water supply and waste water, roads, riverbanks and rock faces.

Parker said the aim is to have the majority of repairs done by the end of today.

After that, EQC said if people need urgent repairs they will need to organise it themselves, and the commission will reimburse them.

The EQC call centres will be closed Christmas and Boxing Day.

It adds that people don't have to rush to get claims in as it's a "new event."

Fletcher EQR has already done 100 repairs since yesterday.

Lines company Orion said that as of 9.00am this morning the number of customers without power on the Orion network had reduced to less than 50.

Orion's CEO, Rob Jamieson said that by 10.00pm last night only 400 customers were without power, though 26,000 customers initially had their power interrupted - mainly in the eastern suburbs of Christchurch.

"Some supply in the Bexley area is currently being provided by one of our emergency diesel generators.  We continue to work on restoring power to the last remaining affected customers today," said Jamieson.

Numbers of casualties 'normal'

The Christchurch District Healthboard said that the number of earthquake-related casualties arriving at the Emergency Department at Christchurch Hospital has been relatively small, and in some cases hard to separate out from normal activity.

There have been eight admissions over the last 20 hours, with all other cases treated or referred and discharged. Of the eight admissions, six were fractures and two were burns - none of these cases are considered serious.

Structural engineers have reported that although there is some new damage to CDHB buildings, there is none that people should be concerned about.

All CDHB buildings are rechecked by structural engineers each time there is a significant aftershock.

Malls open for shopping

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said yesterday's earthquakes were not totally unexpected, although still very unsettling and distressing for city residents.

"GNS scientists have been telling us that there was a likelihood that we would have an aftershock of this magnitude," he said.

"Thankfully there has been no loss of life or serious injury. This is not a miracle, and today's events show that we have been right to be cautious. We have done so much work over the past 15 months to make our city safe."

Parker said he is delighted that many of the city's malls, including the Central City ReStart shopping precinct, are open today.

"It is very important we bounce back. For retailers it is one of the biggest trading days of the year and they need to open."

However, the Palms Mall said it will remain closed as structural engineers are continuing to assess the building to ensure that it is safe prior to re-opening.

The mall said that the safety and wellbeing of retailers, staff and customers is the main priority.

Jason Marsden, centre manager at the Hub Hornby Mall said the centre is open.

"Engineers were onsite within minutes of the first event, and the Centre has been given the all clear.

"Pak'n Save and the Pharmacy are trading as well as several stores and the Mall expects all stores to be trading on Christmas Eve," said Marsden.

Riccarton Mall and the Cashel Mall will be open today, and Christchurch City Council said that the Palms Mall in Shirley is the only mall shut today.

Foodstuffs have confirmed that their supply chain is intact, and are encouraging customers to continue to purchase normally as essential supplies of food and water will remain available. All their stores are now open.

Countdown said that yesterday's tremors have disrupted operations. Online shopping is not operating, however all their stores have now opened, apart from the Palms, which will re-open on Boxing day.

With Newstalk ZB