Aftershocks rattle Christchurch recovery efforts

The New Zealand government has extended the state of emergency in earthquake-ravaged Christchurch until Wednesday and appointed a special minister to oversee the recovery effort as aftershocks continue.

There have been about 100 aftershocks since Saturday’s 7.1-magnitude earthquake with some hitting a magnitude of five.

About 100,000 homes were damaged by the earthquake, hundreds of families are spending a third night in welfare centres, and 3,500 people are still in their homes without power.

Health authorities say there are reports of gastroenteritis in the community, with fears the sewerage system has been contaminated.

Officials are urging people to boil their drinking water and dispose of sewage correctly to limit the spread of disease.

The epicentre of the earthquake was at Darfield, some 40 kilometres away from the centre of Christchurch, and many communities within that radius have been affected.

Repairs are expected to cost at least $2 billion – cabinet today decided to release $80 million immediately for emergency road works, and earmarked $5 million to help quake-affected residents who are not insured.

Prime minister John Key says everyone who needs help will get it, but the bill is certain to run into billions for an economy that is just coming out of recession.

Christchurch’s central business district is still in somewhat of a lockdown and barriers are being built around 90 buildings at risk of collapse.

Eighty soldiers have taken control of the city centre to relieve exhausted emergency services personnel while electricity is gradually being restored.

A judge has warned that anyone caught looting will be dealt with harshly by the courts.

A curfew has been lifted and there will be limited bus services to take workers into the city on Tuesday morning, and it appears some schools will start to reopen on Wednesday.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has urged Australians worried about friends or relatives affected by the earthquake to try to contact them directly.

The Australian High Commission in Wellington is liaising with New Zealand authorities about Australians who may be affected.

DFAT has set up a 24-hour emergency number for those who cannot contact friends or relatives in the Christchurch area. The number is 1300 555 135.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has offered Mr Key any assistance his country might need.

Please follow and like us:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.