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Monday, March 7, 2011

Latest information - Monday 7 March

Latest information - Monday

Last updated 19:56 07/03/2011
 
 
LATEST: 7.56pm: The organisers of Hokitika's Wildfoods Festival have offered 500 free tickets to quake-relief volunteers.

The Student Volunteer Army and the "Farmy Army" have been helping in Christchurch since the magnitude 6.3 earthquake struck on February 22.

Festival organiser Mike Keenan said he wanted to thank the two groups for all their hard work.

"The students were amazing last earthquake and have pulled together again, and farmers are such busy people - it's wonderful they've given so much time and energy," he said.

Student Volunteer Army organiser Jade Rutherford said the students were delighted with the offer and it was a good chance to take a break for a couple of days.

Federated Farmers spokeswoman Vicky O'Connor said the Farmy Army had an enormous team of volunteers helping since the quake and it was great their work had been recognised.

The festival is in its 22nd year.

7.38pm: New Zealand's annual Champion Easter Bun Bake off has been cancelled as a mark of respect to Christchurch earthquake victims.

Organiser Goodman Fielder, an Australasian food company, had planned to hold a South Island judging session in Christchurch on March 30.

"As a mark of respect to so many of our South Island competitors, whose lives and businesses are now so tragically in a state of disarray and can no longer compete in the bake off, we have decided to cancel this year's event," spokesman Paul Howley said.

The company would donate the prize money towards the rebuilding of Christchurch, he said.

7.32pm: French Ambassador to New Zealand Francis Etienne will visit earthquake devastated Christchurch tomorrow to meet authorities and members of the French community there.

"Although we now know that no French citizens were among those confirmed dead, this is not an easy situation for French people based in Christchurch to find themselves in," Etienne said.

5.53pm: The 70-strong UK search and rescue team has now departed Christchurch, assistant national fire commander Paul Baxter said this afternoon.

Fire service responded to 55 calls today relating to quake damage, Baxter said, and the fire ban remains in place for the area.

5.47pm: Civil Defence national controller John Hamilton this afternoon praised the Christchurch residents who were allowed access into the city today.

On Thursday March 10, access will be allowed to zone three through allocated cordon points. No registration will be required beforehand but those entering the zone must provide proof of address or proof of business ownership, Hamilton said.

Green zone three is the area to the north of the central business district.

It will be open from 8am on Thursday morning for home and business owners, and open to the public from Friday morning.

4.50pm: There will be a clearer picture on the Rugby World Cup's future in Christchurch in a few weeks.

Prime Minister John Key says it should be known if there are any structural issues with AMI Stadium within a few weeks. There is some damage to some stands and there is significant liquefaction on the turf.

4.45pm: Police have released the names of a further three quake victims.

They are Betty Irene Dickson, 82, of Christchurch; Joanna Clare Didham, 35, of Christchurch; and Yoshiko Hirauchi, 61, of Japan.

4.38pm: Indications are that up to 10,000 Christchurch homes could be demolished after the quake. Around 3300 homes had to be demolished after the September earthquake.

A further 100,000 properties are damaged and Prime Minister John Key says we must brace ourselves for the likelihood that many heritage buildings would be bulldozed. Some areas of Christchurch mght be abandoned.

4.35pm: A national memorial service to remember quake victims will be held at Hagley Park on Friday 18 March. The service will start at 12.45pm and will include two minutes' silence at 12.51pm.

Prime Minister John Key has announced a one-off provincial holiday for Canterbury that day, so local residents can attend the service. He expects up to a hundred thousand people to attend, including visitors from overseas.

The service will be televised and Key said employers might want to consider how they mark the event at workplaces.

Flags on government buildings will be raised to full mast at 12.51pm tomorrow, exactly two weeks since the quake.

4.23pm: Temperatures in quake-damaged Christchurch will plummet tonight, to around 3degC.

The cold southerly change kicked in last night, but temperatures should start rising again from tomorrow. Thousands of people are still without power in the city.

4.10pm: The national state of emergency has today been extended for a further seven days.

It was first declared on February 23, a day after the quake, and was extended on March 1. Legislation requires it to be reviewed every seven days, and it is likely to continue for several more weeks.

About 500 people have arrived at the Sumner community meeting to hear speakers from Orion, the police and fire service.
 
3.50pm: Power should be restored to 99 per cent of properties outside the CBD by tonight, says Civil Defence.
 
However, it is warning the network is fragile and people should use as little electricity as possible.

2.55pm: Quake-affected Christchurch residents are being offered cheap holidays in Fiji.

Airlines and resorts are combining to offer the quake relief holidays, and flights between Christchurch and Nadi will cost as little as $US27 one way in March, the Fiji Tourism Association says. Taxes are additional, taking flights to around $NZ300 return, and the association is working to find free accommodation for affected families. 

2.15pm: Civil Defence says Christchurch is at an increased risk of disease and vermin in the quake aftermath.

It says rubbish at vacant houses, broken food containers and the amount of wastewater going into the Avon and Heathcote rivers is to blame. It is asking residents to put their neighbours' rubbish bins out for collection if they have left their homes. This week, green and red bins will be collected throughout the city regardless of the usual collection day.

1.50pm: The ANZ earthquake appeal has reached $3.9 million, which includes $188,888 from staff donations. The bank will match the amount raised by staff.

1.15pm: Business owners could get controlled access to the currently-closed CBD "red zone" as early as next week.

They could register on a website expected to be running in a few days, Civil Defence said.

1.05pm: Names are still being added to the missing list after concerns from families of tourists and backpackers.

12.37pm: The Earthquake Commission has paid out $8 million in claims since the February 22 quake.

It has received 41,000 claims to date. 

12.30pm: Urban search and rescue teams are currently clearing the stairwell in the Forsyth Barr building.

They can't rule out the possibility of finding bodies. USAR teams cleared 300 buildings in quake-hit Christchurch yesterday.

12.20pm: Britain's Got Talent winner Paul Potts will perform a fundraising concert in Auckland.

To Christchurch with Love will see Potts perform with the NZSO and other Kiwi stars including Dame Malvina Major, on April 2. Tickets go on sale tomorrow through Ticketmaster.

12.10pm: The Fire Service says anyone with leaky or cold buildings can contact it for help with emergency repairs, such as putting tarpaulins on roofs.

12.05pm:  Orion says 96 per cent of households now have power, with 13,000 properties awaiting reconnection.

A media briefing was told some people were struggling with how to use their chemical toilets, so simplified instructions would be made available.

11.50am: A decision about the possible demolition of the Hotel Grand Chancellor is some way off, Civil Defence says.

National co-ordinator John Hamilton says an urban search and rescue team had made another sweep of the building, and it was currently stable.

11.40am: New Zealand's most famous rock, the 30 tonne Rocky, has sold on Trade Me for $10,050.

The boulder crashed down the hillside and into the garage of a Heathcote family's home after the February 22 quake.

11.05am: Police say the autopsy process is nearing an end, and the death toll remains at 166. However, indentifying and releasing the names of the dead could still take a "considerable length of time".

10.40am: Civil Defence says the cordon on the central city green zones three and four should be lifted mid-week.

10.38am: Mayor Bob Parker says the residents of the quake-damaged eastern suburbs are "inspirational".

He said they were tremendously positive, and not angry. There have been many reports of residents unhappy at the lack of portaloos and other services in the area.

9.24am: Governor-General Sir Anand Satyanand will visit the Roy Stokes Hall recovery centre in New Brighton today.

He will then meet with quake-affected residents in Bexley.

9.09am: Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker says he needed to take time out of the city at the weekend.

He managed a few hours in the small settlement of Little River.

8.24am: Christchurch's deputy mayor Ngaire Button says she wants central Christchurch to be rebuilt.

8.22am: Christchurch's deputy mayor Ngaire Button says civic leaders will meet CBD business owners today.

8.09am: Prime Minister John Key says the country could probably do with a cut in the official cash rate (OCR).

The Reserve Bank is due to review the OCR later this week.

8.08am: The national state of emergency will be extended today, says Prime Minister John Key.

Key told TVNZ's Breakfast that it will be in place for some time yet.

7.34am: Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says quake helpline has received nearly 90,000 calls.

7.31am: Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says Government is able to afford welfare spending for quake victims.

7.03am: Emergency meetings will be held in some of the areas worst affected by the earthquake today.
Thirty-one schools will open within the next three days.

6.27am: Police are advising people to stay away from the Christchurch CBD unless they have to come to the city.

Superintendent Sandra Manderson says no-one tried to breach the cordon around the central city last night.
Motorists are advised to leave early and show patience in traffic jams on the roads.

6.14am: Eighty one per cent of houses are now connected to water, says Christchurch mayor Bob Parker.
Rubbish collections are operating as normal.

Rubble/bricks from the earthquake need to be taken to the tip, not put into rubbish wheelie bins, Parker says.

- Stuff

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