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Posts Tagged ‘South Island’

Massive earthquake sets back NZ economic recovery

Posted by Admin on September 6, 2010

Space view of Christchurch and surrounding areas.

Image via Wikipedia

A person cycles past a damaged road near the Avon River following Saturday's powerful 7.1-magnitude earthquake, in Christchurch, New Zealand, Sunday,

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand – New Zealand’s prime minister warned Monday that the country’s economic recovery will be hurt by the weekend’s powerful 7.1-magnitude earthquake that smashed buildings and wrecked roads and rail lines in the city of Christchurch.

The aftereffects of the temblor are still coming to light. Residents in a new subdivision in a southern suburb were evacuated Monday from their houses, which became mired in deep layers of silt that spewed from the soft ground as it turned to liquid under pressure from the quake.

“We thought we were having a tsunami,” said homeowner Lalita Sharma. “We stepped outside into knee-high liquid. We thought the house would sink.”

Mounds of sand covered front lawns and driveways, and some houses had been ripped from their foundations. A driveway that had sloped upward from the road was now flat, the rose garden buried in sand.

Army troops have taken control of central Christchurch to help police secure streets and badly damaged businesses in the worst-hit center of the city. The area remained cordoned off and under nighttime curfew, with only building and business owners allowed access.

“There will be considerable disruption to the (regional) and national economy in the short term,” but activity should pick up as reconstruction gains momentum, Prime Minister John Key said. The country’s economy has now recorded two quarters of minor growth after struggling to escape 18 months of recession.

The quake struck at 4:35 a.m. Saturday near the South Island city of 400,000 people, ripping open a new fault line in the earth’s surface, destroying hundreds of buildings and cutting power to the region. No one was killed, and only two serious injuries were reported.

Key, who toured the city’s damaged areas over the weekend, said 430 houses and another 70 buildings, many of them older structures, were already earmarked for demolition because of damage caused by the quake. Around 100,000 of the region’s 160,000 homes had sustained some damage, he said.

“I was awe-struck by the power of the earthquake and the damage it has caused in the city,” he told reporters. “It was miraculous that nobody was killed.”

A quake-damaged building partially collapsed into a suburban street Monday and officials took urgent steps to bulldoze and remove it. There were no injuries reported.

“Police had a unit going past just as it happened and they managed to stop and block (off) the road,” Inspector John Price said.

Key said the earthquake would have a short-term negative impact on economic growth, but that loss “would be more than made up by the stimulus impact that takes place with the rebuilding program.”

The government plans to pay at least 90 percent of the hundreds of millions of dollars needed to rebuild thecity’s water, waste water and road infrastructure, Key said.

Economists agreed the immediate economic outlook for quake-ravaged Christchurch is bleak, but noted reconstruction would provide a boost to a struggling construction sector next year.

“I think people are going to be pretty conservative over the next three months. What we are seeing is … negative growth in the near term,” ANZ Bank chief economist Cameron Bagrie said.

More than 80 aftershocks, ranging from magnitude 3.2 to 5.4, have rocked the region since the major quake Saturday.

Rain was falling Monday in the nearby Southern Alps and foothills, increasing the risk of flooding. Civil defenseofficials warned that stop banks, or flood protectors, weakened by the quake may fail to hold rising waters. Engineers were inspecting the banks Monday.

Around 150 people have been evacuated from a trailer park near the Waimakariri River as a precaution.

New Zealand sits above an area where two tectonic plates collide. The country records more than 14,000 earthquakes a year — but only about 150 are felt by residents. Fewer than 10 a year do any damage.

New Zealand’s last major earthquake registered magnitude 7.8 and hit South Island’s Fiordland region on July 16, 2009, moving the southern tip of the country 12 inches (30 centimeters) closer to Australia.

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Associated Press Writer Ray Lilley in Wellington contributed to this report.

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Emergency declared after 7.1 quake hits New Zealand

Posted by Admin on September 4, 2010

Global earthquake epicenters, 1963 1998

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WELLINGTON | Sat Sep 4, 2010 1:36pm IST

WELLINGTON (Reuters) – Authorities declared an overnight curfew for Saturday after a major earthquake hit New Zealand‘s second biggest city, Christchurch, bringing down power lines and bridges and wrecking roads and building facades.

“The damages are incredibly frightening. The only thing you can say it’s a miracle that no one lost their life,” Prime Minister John Key told Television NZ after the quake struck with a magnitude of 7.1 from a depth of 10 kms (6 miles) at around 4.35 a.m. local time (1635 GMT Friday).

He said early estimates for the cost of repairs were around NZ$2 billion ($1.4 billion).

A curfew was slapped on the central business district of Christchurch between 1900 and 0700 (0700 GMT and 1900 GMT). Earlier, a formal civil defence state of emergency was imposed in the city of around 350,000 to coordinate recovery operations.

The last time authorities declared a local emergency was in late December 2007 when a 6.8 magnitude earthquake hit Gisborne on New Zealand’s North Island. The earthquake caused damage to some buildings but also caused no casualties.

Christchurch city and the neighbouring small towns bore the full force of the quake, which did considerable damage to infrastructure.

“The damage is immense, it’s something that has affected every family, every household…the hit on our infrastructure, the pipes that deliver the water, the waste water, the bridges, the power supplies…has been very significant,” Christchurch mayor Bob Parker told reporters.

The city’s hospital said two men had been admitted with serious injuries, one hit by a falling chimney and the other cut by glass.

Police said there were minor instances of looting, which had been quickly contained. In the suburbs many houses had broken windows, toppled chimneys, cracked walls and items thrown off shelves, with some streets and footpaths subsiding.

In late afternoon, power has been restored to 90 percent of the Christchurch urban area and 80 percent of the rural network.

Authorities were preparing to bring in water in large tankers because pumping stations were out of action and pipes broken.

RURAL EPICENTRE

The small farming community of Darfield, around 20 kms (12 miles) west of Christchurch, was near the quake’s epicentre.

The principal of the primary school there said the quake, which threw him out of bed, was terrifying.

“Our china cabinet has crashed, pictures are off the wall, anything high up has come down and the cat has gone. He is probably still heading south,” Markham McCullen told the NZ Press Association.

GNS Science, the New Zealand government seismological agency, revised the quake’s magnitude to 7.1 from an original 7.4. The U.S. Geological Survey initially reported it at 7.4 but later revised its figure to 7.0.

Christchurch airport, which was shut earlier, has been reopened and is operational, while the railway network and bridges throughout the region were also being checked for damage.

Canterbury University, which has about 22,000 students, said there has been no material structural damage on its campus, but the university will be closed until Sept 13 for health and safety assessment.

The quake was felt as a long rolling motion lasting up to 40 seconds. The area was continuing to feel aftershocks as strong as magnitude 5.3.

The quake was among the 10 strongest recorded in New Zealand, which sits between the Pacific and Indo-Australian tectonic plates, and records around 14,000 earthquakes a year, of which around 20 top magnitude 5.0.

The last fatal quake was in 1968 when an earthquake measuring 7.1 killed three people on the South Island‘s West Coast.

($1 = NZ$1.39)

(Additional reporting by Mantik Kusjanto; Editing by David Fox)

(For more news, visit Reuters India)

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