Christchurch earthquake: Latest updates
Updated 8:51 PM Thursday Mar 3, 2011
That concludes our latest updates for this evening. We'll be back tomorrow morning with more comprehensive coverage from Canterbury.
Nearly 1700 Defence Force personnel are now deployed around Christchurch providing services including security, air transport and logistic support, Defence Minister Wayne Mapp says.
Dr Mapp made his third trip to the city today with Defence Force chief Lieutenant-General Rhys Jones.
"There has been a wide variety of requests from Civil Defence and police since the earthquake struck," Dr Mapp said.
"Units and personnel of all three services have delivered quickly and efficiently on every one."
Dr Mapp said the RNZAF had evacuated 4271 people from Christchurch and was still providing air transport between the city and other centres.
The Defence Force had been able to anticipate situations and was able to offer some form of help even before a request was received, he said.
"They're doing a first-class job here."
Students at an Auckland school are using YouTube to promote an international fund-raising campaign to raise money for Christchurch's earthquake recovery.
Glen Eden Intermediate School students released a clip today asking foreign schools to organise "All Red and Black Days" to raise funds for the New Zealand Red Cross 2011 earthquake appeal, spokeswoman for the school Ann-Louise Hyde said.
The students had already received pledges from schools in Australia, Poland, Austria, England and an Australian businessman had offered to donate $50,000, Ms Hyde said.
Meanwhile, New Zealanders were being urged to wear the red and black colours of Canterbury tomorrow to show support for the people of Christchurch.
National Red and Black Day was organised by Hamilton-based NZ Transport Agency senior communications advisor Kara Fleming as a way for the country to show solidarity and support for Christchurch.
"So many of us have felt helpless watching the devastation in Christchurch from far away, and people really want to do something tangible and visible to show their love and support for their fellow Kiwis."
A policeman donned work gloves and a safety helmet to rescue sacred texts from a badly-damaged Jewish community centre following last week's Christchurch earthquake
After fleeing the Chabad House during the earthquake, Rabbi Shmuel Friedman tried yesterday to retrieve the Sefer Torah scrolls from the building in central Christchurch, but was stopped at the police cordon.
There he pleaded with Detective Chris Bell to let him enter, Rabbi Friedman told Sydney-based Jewish news website J-Wire.
"I explained how the Torah was hand-written on special parchment and that it was the Jewish bible and how much importance was attached to them."
Mr Bell relented and drove the rabbi to the Chabad House in a police car, he said.
"It was a five minute drive...but it was a horrifying experience.
"The entire block which houses Chabad House is red-tagged and will be totally demolished. I didn't recognise the street."
Rabbi Friedman said he pleaded with Mr Bell again after the policeman said the building was too dangerous to enter.
Mr Bell said nothing, but then donned a safety helmet and work gloves then went in and got the scrolls.
"He looked like a fireman rescuing a baby from a blazing home," Rabbi Friedman said.
The two scrolls would form an integral part of rebuilding the Chabad House in Christchurch, he said.
A Royal Commission of Inquiry could be set up to investigate the Christchurch earthquake and the loss of life in the devastated city, Prime Minister John Key says.
Mr Key has previously said an inquiry would be needed and told reporters today he was getting advice from officials.
A Royal Commission - the highest form of inquiry - was "absolutely an option... given the significant loss of life I can't rule that out".
Mr Key ordered a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Pike River coal mine explosions which killed 29 men in November, and it is working on the investigation now.
He said if one was established for the earthquake it would be entirely separate.
Mail deliveries have resumed from five of Christchurch's six delivery branches, New Zealand Post says.
Deliveries stopped after last Tuesday's devastating 6.3-magnitude quake but mail was now being delivered to about 4000 streets, which represented about 80 percent of the city, an NZ Post spokesman said.
"New Zealand Post is providing a free mail redirection service for Christchurch customers affected by the earthquake," the spokesman said.
As their urban counterparts comb central Christchurch for victims of last week's devastating quake, hundreds of Land Search and Rescue (LandSAR) volunteers have taken on a more low-profile task.
Up to 350 of them have spent the past nine days going door-to-door, checking on the health and well-being of rattled residents in the suburbs.
The operation is run from the rugby league club rooms at Halswell Domain and the adjacent car park, south-west of the city centre, with volunteers sleeping in tents on the field.
Read more here.
Health officials are confident the dust being blown around Christchurch following last week's deadly earthquake poses little health risk but say precautions should be taken.
Community respiratory physician and director of the Canterbury Respiratory Research Group, Michael Epton, said ground liquefaction from the 6.3-magnitude "We have seen higher levels of air pollution than normal for this time of year, especially over the last two days, where levels have exceeded the WHO (World Health Organisation) guidelines," Dr Epton said.
"The effects of dust and sand - as opposed to pollution from industry, home heating and cars - lead more to irritation such as cough and nose/eye irritation rather than significant immediate effects on people with respiratory disease."
Anyone exposed to the dust should wash and dry their hands, use hand sanitiser and wear a mask and eye protection if susceptible to dust.
"So far, we haven't seen higher levels of illness than would normally be expected at this time of year, both at the after-hours surgeries, but also in terms of hospital admissions," Dr Epton said.
"It would seem sensible, though, if you have diseases such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease to make sure you are taking your preventer inhalers regularly, and seek medical help if you are developing worsening symptoms."
The Food Show, which was due to be held in Christchurch in April, has been postponed following last week's devastating earthquake.
North Port Events chief executive Dona White said the event would instead be held later this year.
A spokesman for lines company Orion says 22,000 households remain without power, about 15,500 of which are in the Brighton and Dallington suburbs. However, the Brighton substation is operational and the process of reconnecting customers in Brighton and Dallington is under way.
"We cannot identify which pockets of customers or suburbs will be reconnected first, except to say they will be on the ends of the least damaged cables," the spokesman said.
Cable repair work is the top priority, and a mobile cable repair and manufacturing facility have arrived from the North Island.
The Christchurch Art Gallery, home to the Civil Defence rescue effort, is back in business after being evacuated this afternoon because of a fire alarm.
About 200 people who evacuated the building had now returned.
Prime Minister John Key has announced a national memorial service for those who died in the Christchurch earthquake.
The service will be held in the coming weeks in Christchurch, he said.
Community Law Canterbury will provide free legal services throughout Christchurch from Monday. This will include a daily clinic (at present from Monday to Saturday) at a venue still to be confirmed.
Community Law Canterbury says there will also be at least one lawyer available at each of six welfare centres. These locations may vary, and the lawyers will move with them.
Any lawyers who have offers of assistance can contact email@example.com, text to 021 420 622, or phone 0800 529 000. The New Zealand Law Society will collate names and offers of help and forward them to Community Law Canterbury.
Christchurch City Mission has set up a new office at the Riccarton Club, 66b Wharenui Road, Riccarton. Ph 365 0635.
A web portal where businesses and not-for-profit organisations can pledge goods and services of use to other businesses or the Christchurch community has been established at pledge.canterburyearthquake.org.nz.
The site is intended for larger scale goods and services that Civil Defence can arrange to distribute for a specific community need. Pledges made through this site will be collated by Civil Defence staff to match needs identified by the many agencies working on earthquake recovery in Christchurch.
Donations of money can be made at http://www.christchurchearthquakeappeal.govt.nz/ and through the New Zealand Red Cross. Smaller goods and services that do not require Civil Defence to become involved can be offered through the informal TradeMe site.
Civil Defence Emergency Management national controller John Hamilton said this afternoon nobody could have survived, eight days after the earthquake.
"We now face the reality that there is no chance that anyone could have survived this long, and efforts have to shift to the recovery of loved ones and their return to their families," said Mr Hamilton.
The focus of searchers is now switching to one of recovery, rather than rescue.
Jim Stuart-Black, head of Fire Service's Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) teams, said the decision meant buildings were still treated as if they contained people.
"People are handled like family members, with care and respect, as they are removed safely."
St John ambulance personnel say there has been a marked increase in Christchurch patients with heart problems since last week's devastating 6.3 earthquake.
They had been called out to more than 90 incidents of cardiac arrest and chest pain, St John said.
Christchurch's Queen Elizabeth 2 Park recreation and sport centre has been closed indefinitely.
City Council recreation and sports manager John Filsell said the complex's infrastructure had been badly damaged by last week's devastating earthquake.
Queen Elizabeth 2 Park's multi-use sports facility was built in 1973 to host the 1974 Commonwealth Games.
ANZAC SPIRIT: Australian police, in Christchurch to assist the city with its earthquake recovery, have declined to take a day off so they can continue working side by side with their Kiwi colleagues.
The Budget in May will reflect the cost of the Christchurch earthquake, Prime Minister John Key has warned.
"It just might have some deep streaks of red through it, unfortunately," he told reporters today.
"It's going to be a very important Budget because it's about signalling the long but necessary process of rebuilding Christchurch."
Mr Key said the earthquake was expected to bite $5 billion out of tax revenue over four years.
Here's a guide to the emotional needs of children in the weeks and months following a traumatic event such as an earthquake.
Here's a nice initiative: whiteware manufacturers Fisher & Paykel have set up "community laundries" in selected locations in earthquake-affected areas in Christchurch offering free washing and drying facilities.
The list of locations is here, or for further information call Fisher & Paykel on (03) 344 4622.
The Ibbotson family at St Clair wines in Marlborough have put up some top-notch gold medal wines for auction, with proceeds going to the earthquake appeal.
People whose cars remain in Christchurch's CBD can contact Turners Car Auctions to see if it has been recovered. Tow truck drivers are taking cars that haven't been damaged in the earthquake to Turners' Christchurch branch, Newstalk ZB reports.
NOT GIVING UP HOPE: It may be more than a week since Christchurch's devastating earthquake, but police say they are still treating the situation as a rescue mission, citing incidents overseas where people have been rescued alive after 10 days.
CHECK IT OUT: nzherald's Troy Rawhiti-Forbes is collating various messages, images and video from the people of Christchurch onto blogging website Tumblr, following last week's earthquake.
Those who play a key role in Christchurch's grieving process are also under tremendous strain in the aftermath of last week's earthquake. To assist, the Funeral Directors Association have sent a disaster response team to the city.
More than 50 embalmers, funeral directors and support staff have been enlisted to ease the workload heaped on employees of Christchurch's 10 funeral homes.
"There's an awful lot of trauma out there to deal with", said Association president Tony Garing.
Ruatoria based Radio Ngati Porou is currently running a 24hr Radiothon for earthquake relief. The station has been working with Te Runanga o Ngati Porou. "I'm hoping everyone tunes in and supports this very important kaupapa," says chief executive Erana Keelan-Reedy.
You can listen to the Radiothon online, here.
NOT SO HASTY: The Council of Trade Unions (CTU) is urging Christchurch businesses not to make hasty decisions about closing down permanently.
Canterbury CTU spokesman Marty Braithwaite said today a number of employers whose business premises had been destroyed or damaged by the earthquake had told staff they wouldn't be re-opening.
He said in many cases it's too early to make those decisions.
The people behind the MY WILL company had first-hand experience of the earthquake at 12.51pm last Tuesday, although they all escaped the Armagh St building safely.
Now they are pledging $50 to the Relief Fund for every Will they process. Their service is an online one. "Nationwide support will help our business to survive", says owner Janet Thompson.
The future of a block of apartments on a lean in central Christchurch is unclear, Newstalk ZB reports.
The 13-storey-high Victoria Apartments block on Armagh Street in the CBD has moved as a result of the earthquake.
Owner Stuart Leck, who also lives in one of the apartments, says the building is leaning 450 millimetres out towards the road from top to bottom.
He says he is unaware what is going to happen because he has not heard from anyone.
Usually if you want to use a library's facilities, but you live somewhere else, you're right out of luck. However, the folks at Gisborne's public library have a positive message for any Cantabrians taking refuge in their city - "come along, get instant membership and free access to all services!"
Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said today it would be some months before the central business district (CBD) would reopen.
"However", he says, "in terms of putting a timeline on what that is, we just don't have information at this stage."
A lot of planning work needed to be done, but he hoped to be able to give a time within the next few weeks.
Christchurch International Airport is working with the tourism industry to develop a new strategy to ensure tourists continue to fly in and out of Christchurch when they travel to the South Island.
Many inner-city hotels are uninhabitable, for example; but there are 1900 motel rooms available in suburban parts of the city.
The challenges involved in rebuilding hundreds of Christchurch's businesses is the focus of this story.
A website has been set up where people can post messages to health workers at the frontline of the Christchurch earthquake response. http://www.amos.org.nz/
Prosecution could be launched against those who carried out the unauthorised demolition of a heritage church in central Christchurch, Mayor Bob Parker said.
Residents of the quake-stricken Christchurch seaside suburb of New Brighton will start having their homes reconnected to electricity tonight.
Lines company Orion said the last of Christchurch's main power substations to be connected - Brighton substation - was confirmed as working yesterday.
About 24,000 houses and businesses in Christchurch still remain without power. Around 16,600 of those awaiting reconnection were in the eastern suburbs of New Brighton and Dallington.
For international students in Christchurch:
If you can't get in touch with your institution and need assistance (with visas, accommodation, refunds, transfers etc), phone the Ministry of Education's call centre on 0800 225 580.
Former journalist Bronwyn Sweeney writes this account of how last Tuesday's jolt has affected her and her organisation.
Police say the official number of casualties from the earthquake has now risen by one to 161. The names of two Israeli nationals who lost their lives in the disaster have also been released: Gabi Moshe Ingel, 22, and Ofer Levy, 22. One other Israeli citizen, Ofer Mizrahi, also died in the quake after debris fell on the car he was driving.
At this morning's Civil Defence briefing, Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said people will start to be allowed back - in a controlled manner - into the CBD to collect belongings and vehicles from tomorrow.
Icebreaker is donating all its proceeds today for earthquake relief in Christchurch. The activewear retailer has several outlets in New Zealand and overseas.
A rugby match has been organised in London this Sunday to raise funds for two Southern Hemisphere causes - the Christchurch earthquake and the Queensland floods.
The Pacific Barbarians will play an Australian XV at Old Deer Park, the home of London Welsh.
The Pacific Baabaas will include former All Black Jerry Collins and leading out the Aussie XV will be George Smith.
Lotto's Powerball jackpot will be increased to a minimum $17 million for this weekend's special draw to benefit the people of Christchurch, NZ Lotteries says.
Half of all the sales from Lotto, Strike and Powerball this week will go towards the Christchurch Earthquake Relief Fund.
GNS Science reports that another aftershock struck Christchurch at 9.40am measuring 3.0 magnitude, 10 km north-west of Lyttelton.
Christchurch residents have again been warned about bogus Earthquake Commission (EQC) assessors after reports of people claiming to be assessors knocking on doors outside working hours. Genuine EQC assessment teams operated only between 8am and 6pm.
Ballantynes says it will trade alone in the badly damaged CBD if need be.
Executive director Richard Ballantyne is hopeful the iconic department store will be strong and safe enough to re-open.
Police Superintendent Russell Gibson says more names of the deceased will be released today.
SHOW YOUR TRUE COLOURS: Find out more on this Twitter page about the Red and Black Day planned for tomorrow.
Hospital patients around the country are being urged to be as understanding as possible, as resources are shifted to help Christchurch after the February 22 quake.
Health Minister Tony Ryall today praised private and public health services around the country for their co-operation and he urged workers to care for themselves too.
Gerry Brownlee says he did not realise how neglected the eastern suburbs of Christchurch have been.
There have been complaints from residents that they are being ignored and have no portaloos.
The Earthquake Recovery Minister says his focus today will be to remedy that.
Getting around Christchurch city and environs will start getting a bit easier from today. A limited range of Metro bus services will be operating. Details here.
All these services are free for two weeks from today.
To ease the immediate financial pain for many earthquake victims, two grants have been established: an Emergency and Hardship Grant of between $500 and $1000; and a $10,000 Bereavement Grant for the next of kin of the deceased.
Red Cross is administering the grants.
Many pets displayed an uncanny "sixth sense" that an earthquake was about to hit, their owners report. Now, the SPCA in Christchurch is looking after 194 stray animals and there are another 150 evacuated animals. Some of the animals will be dispersed around the country.
Another fundraising effort to note in the diary is "Zumba Love for Christchurch", which will be held in Te Rapa, north Hamilton, on Saturday March 12 from 10am-noon.
More bodies have been pulled from the rubble in Christchurch.
The official death toll remains at 160 but that is expected to increase with the latest recoveries.
Overnight police commander Superintendent Russell Gibson told Newstalk ZB he understands the bodies were found in the Pyne Gould building.
Herald business writer Christopher Adams profiles how a Canterbury company is "working from home" to keep operations going in the most trying of circumstances.
One person has been arrested after they were caught stealing within Christchurch's central city cordon overnight but police report a quiet night in the quake-stricken city.
Overnight the city was also hit by seven aftershocks, the strongest measuring 3.9 on the Richter Scale.
Reports on Twitter say thousands of Kiwis are gathering at Westminster Cathedral in London for a vigil for victims of the Christchurch earthquake. Hayley Westenra is leading the national anthem.