26000 People Abandon Christchurch

NEW Zealand’s quake-hit Canterbury region has lost more than 26,000 residents since February’s killer earthquake flattened much of Christchurch.

New voter enrolment figures have confirmed the exodus from the struggling region in the wake of the natural disaster, the country’s most devastating in 80 years.

It showed 26,113 adults had permanently relocated outside Canterbury in recent months.

The figures back up recent migration statistics showing a net exodus of 3300 Kiwis went to Australia in May followed by 3100 in June – the heaviest departures across the ditch in 30 years.

A survey released last month found 24 per cent of New Zealanders under the age of 30 were either “considering” or “definitely” leaving to live overseas.

The Canterbury region was over represented among them.

Christchurch Central Labour MP Brendon Burns told the local Press newspaper he was surprised by the number who planned to leave, or had already done so.

“But that’s testimony to the enormous devastation the earthquake has caused in people’s lives,” he said.

The February 22 earthquake killed 181 people, destroyed most of the city’s picturesque CBD, closed dozens of businesses and damaged thousands of homes.

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