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Night curfew for quake ravaged Chch

Published: 6:14PM Sunday September 05, 2010 Source: ONE News

Another 12-hour curfew came into effect at 7pm in the central business district of Christchurch along with a round-the-clock cordon.

The state of emergency in the earthquake-stricken city will be reassessed at midday tomorrow but today teams began assessing the enormous damage.

One of the big questions now is when it will be safe to open up the business district but with hundreds of damaged buildings emergency services are taking no chances.

This morning Civil Defence briefed engineers, council staff and urban search and rescue personnel and while there is pressure to get shops and businesses open again people's safety is paramount.

Everything will be checked before the CBD is open to the public again.

The team of experts are shouldering a big responsibility, checking every building in the CBD.

Fire Service spokesman Graeme Mills said it's a major task but the 30 teams from all over New Zealand will be working as quickly as they can.

Around 90 buildings in the central city are damaged and engineers expect those with brick facades and walls to have problems.

Structural engineer Julius Long said he was well aware of what buildings would be in danger and he hasn't had any surprises.

The historic Repertory Theatre is one of those declared unsafe and has been assigned a red sticker which means it cannot be entered or occupied. There are concerns the cost of fixing it may be too much.

A building which gets a yellow sticker is restricted with work to be done, but once it's upgraded to green it is cleared.

And not all damage is obvious - at the Copthorne Hotel cracks in the basement are causing concern and it will be checked thoroughly before re-opening.

Mills said the Fire Service is focused on safety.

"Obviously we're looking at people wanting to get back into buildings quickly...we want to look at the economic situation for the central part of the city but at the end of the day somebody has to sign off on these buildings as well and we don't want anybody going into a building that collapses tomorrow."

Engineers from all round the country, as well as 50 urban search and rescue members have been called in to help. They will tackle tasks such as removing brick walls and chimneys to make places more safe but with aftershocks continuing, the inspection teams don't want to take any chances with buildings that are not up to standard.

Unexpected tourist attraction

Out on the Canterbury Plains, where the earthquake was centred, rural communities were working to clean up but being home to the official epicentre has made the Darfield area a bit of a tourist attraction.

Geologists have been pouring over the most popular patch of road in Canterbury. They are measuring the displacement of the cracks and the direction in which things have opened.

Locals said it's easy to see how powerful the quake was because the once dead straight, dead flat road was picked up and shunted sideways.

The earthquake's powerful punch was felt all over the region but as the aftershocks abate locals are venturing out and getting over their ordeal by talking about it.

The Fire Service is still busy with fragile chimneys on today's hit list ahead of high winds expected tonight.

People seeking company

More than a thousand people have called the government's earthquake helpline and others are seeking support at welfare centres set up around the region.

The quake has left sewage and mud flowing through homes and people are heading to the centres in their droves.

Some are just looking for solace while others can't face returning home just yet.

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  • gordy said on 2010-09-09 @ 13:59 NZDT: Report abusive post

    Im my 51 years on this earth I have never felt so pertrified..my first thoughts was we had been hit by a nuclear bomb and it was Armageddon. Never ever want to experience it again

  • schicken said on 2010-09-08 @ 19:15 NZDT: Report abusive post

    I thought the same thing initially. However, another quake big enough to close or shift the cracks further is likely to be heard first and all the kids will most likely be fine. If a child does get swallowed up, I'm probably not going to have huge empathy for the media coverage or their parents, but until then, let the region have a little bit of fun. Education about health risks regarding contaminated water may be a good idea for all. :)

  • thinkaboutit said on 2010-09-06 @ 23:06 NZDT: Report abusive post

    More great coverage tonight TVNZ especially highlighting the situation at individual community levels where people reported they felt abandoned. All credit to those organising themselves into community working groups at this level despite this. Arguably the recovery process would be greatly enhanced if these community groups were psychologically and practically supported by establishing official coordination centres at individual community levels.

  • Madeleine Ware said on 2010-09-06 @ 17:31 NZDT: Report abusive post

    You're making some good points here. Perhaps some of the donations could be towards purchasing and setting up storage of these sorts of things. Individuals are also responsible for making their own preparations. I clean and keep old 3L juice bottles filled with water. Every now and then I water my house plants with one and refill it to refresh it.

  • Madeleine Ware said on 2010-09-06 @ 17:25 NZDT: Report abusive post

    Why are they buying water? Aren't there several tankers about the city giving it away?

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