Christchurch reopens no-go zones after quake

New Zealand authorities have lifted the cordon in the heart of quake-hit Christchurch, one week after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake rocked the country’s second largest city.

And as aftershocks continued to hit and a state of emergency remained in place in the damaged city, prime minister John Key said he would push through emergency legislation next week to help with the rebuilding process.

Some 230 people were still being accommodated in welfare centres as the cordon was lifted, but power has been restored to most homes.

“While progress is being made on restoring services, the pace of restoration is slowing because remaining outages [are] taking longer to fix,” civil defence director John Hamilton said.

Mr Key visited some of the worst affected parts of the city and said the government was hoping to push through special legislation to ensure the reconstruction was completed promptly.

“We’re hopeful we’ll get agreement on that legislation by the early to mid part of next week, and look to transition that legislation through the house,” he told reporters.

Christchurch mayor Bob Parker had hoped to open the city centre early Friday for the first time since the quake hit, but fresh tremors measuring up to magnitude 4.5 temporarily scuppered that plan.

The cordons, which had been enforced by police and the military, were eventually lifted late on Friday evening, allowing residents back into these parts of the city centre for the first time in a week.

The city of 340,000 will remain under a state of emergency until Wednesday, following the main tremor on September 4, which caused damage estimated at $4 billion.

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