Parts Of Christchurch Abandoned

New Zealand’s prime minister says parts of Christchurch were so badly damaged in last month’s deadly earthquake that areas of the city will have to be abandoned.

John Key says 10,000 homes face demolition after the 6.3-magnitude tremor which is believed to have claimed more than 200 lives.

But he warns that rebuilding will not be possible in some areas.

“We simply don’t know,” he told Radio New Zealand when asked which parts of the city would be deserted.

“We know there’s been substantial liquefaction damage. It’s a statement of fact that there will be some properties that can’t be rebuilt.

“The question is whether [rebuilding] is possible for certain parts of the city, certain streets or houses.”

Mr Key says geotechnical engineers are working urgently to clarify the areas worst affected by liquefaction, caused when the quake’s shaking loosened the bonds between soil particles, turning the ground into a quagmire.

Community worker Tom McBrearty says the prime minister’s comments have increased anxiety among residents still reeling from the February 22 quake.

Mr McBrearty says his group Cancern has been flooded with hundreds of calls from locals concerned Mr Key’s remarks indicated their suburbs were set to become ghost towns.

“It was a shocker,” he said. “They interpreted… it as being that the riverside communities would not be allowed to be rebuilt, which is at this stage is incorrect. We don’t know, we’re still waiting for final analysis.”

Mr Key says the government will provide financial assistance to those who are forced to move and is in talks with developers about releasing new subdivisions to cope with the demand for housing in the stricken city.

Christchurch mayor Bob Parker says speculation on the fate of entire suburbs is “alarmist”.

He has urged residents to wait until geotechnical reports are complete.

The death toll from the earthquake stood at 166 on Tuesday but police expect it to rise to more than 200.

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