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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Latest Updates - Wednesday 23 Feb

Foreign Affairs Murray McCully today expressed New Zealand's gratitude for messages of condolences and offers of assistance following yesterday's Christchurch earthquake.

"New Zealanders are deeply humbled by the messages of support and offers of specialist search and rescue help that have flooded in over the past 24 hours from other countries," he said.

"Support will be critical over the next few days as we reassess the specialist services required to speed the rescue operation."

Mr McCully said New Zealand had received offers of help from numerous countries, and accepted offers from Australia, the United States, Singapore, Japan, United Kingdom and Taiwan.

• Fonterra delivers water  

Fonterra today delivered 200,000 litres of fresh water to quake-stricken Christchurch.  

The city council earlier said clean water was likely to run out within days as yesterday's 6.3 magnitude quake had damaged the water supply on the eastern side of the city.

The water was delivered in rail pods usually used to transport milk and was being distributed to water centres set up at six local schools.

Fonterra said 34 pods, each holding 21,000 litres, were being sourced from around the South Island.

"We will fill these with water and deliver it to Christchurch to help keep water coming for as long as it's needed."

Six more water tanks were also on their way from Auckland.

The council also reported the sewage treatment station at suburban Bromley out of service with raw sewage entering the estuary.

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said food, additional blankets and supplies had been requisitioned under emergency powers with the assistance of some major companies in Christchurch.

• Census form delivery delayed

Statistics New Zealand has suspended the delivery of census forms nationwide due to yesterday's devastating 6.3 magnitude quake in Christchurch.

Census general manager Carol Slappendel said the forms would not be delivered before February 25.

"Like everyone in New Zealand, our many staff in Christchurch and around the country are struggling to cope with yesterday's tragedy," she said. "We also face uncertainty as to the extent of damage to our buildings and operating systems in Christchurch and what impact that will have on the 2011 Census."

Statistics NZ had already stopped form deliveries in Christchurch and Banks Peninsula.

The five yearly census is due to be held on March 8. 

• Post services suspended

New Zealand Post said today all operations in Christchurch will remain suspended until Monday, when they will be further reviewed.

The suspension includes Christchurch Mail Centre operations, postal and courier deliveries, box lobbies and PostShop Kiwibank stores.

"We have decided to continue the suspension of operations at this time so we can fully assess the safety and wellbeing of our staff and their families, support staff personally affected by this terrible disaster and check the structural integrity of our premises," Group Chief Executive Brian Roche said.

Mr Roche said options were being reviewed for alternative ways of getting mail to South Island centres whose mail is processed at the Christchurch Mail Centre.

For Christchurch customers, mail and parcels will be held until deliveries resume.

PostShop Kiwibank stores owned by New Zealand Post will remain closed until each has undergone a structural audit and cleared for resumption of business.

Franchisees wil decide when services resume at franchised stores and PostCentre outlets.

•  Crusaders board director killed

A director on the board of the Crusaders was killed in the Christchurch earthquake, the Canterbury Rugby Union's chief executive Hamish Riach confirmed today. 

Riach said the unnamed board member had been working in the Pyne Gould Corporation building which collapsed yesterday.

He said the Crusaders team had been shaken up by the event. He was not aware of any other loss of life in the wider organisation.

•  Concerns over water supply   

There will not be enough water to meet demand in Christchurch in the coming days, Christchurch City Council says. 

The council says damage caused by yesterday's earthquake meant the water supply was not functioning on the eastern side of the city.

"There is no drinking water and no fire pressure," it said in a statement.

The council said that drinking water could be collected from a number of primary schools where it would be be delivered throughout the day.

Lyttelton Main and Phillipstown schools have water tanks, while tanks are on their way to Governors Bay Primary School, Lyttelton West School an Diamond Harbour Service Station.

Six more water tanks are were their way from Auckland.

The council also reported the sewage treatment station at suburban Bromley out of service with raw sewage entering the estuary.

•  Flag to fly at half-mast 

The New Zealand flag will fly at half-mast on all Government and public buildings until further notice in the wake of yesterday's Christchurch earthquake. 

The Ministry of Culture and Heritage said Prime Minister John Key made the request as a mark of respect for the earthquake victims.

•  Bodies moved to Burnham 

Bodies of people killed in yesterday's Christchurch earthquake are being moved to Burnham Military Camp, as a temporary morgue in the city could not cope, Cabinet ministers were told at a briefing this morning. 

"Temporary mortuary facilities have been moved from Orchard Rd to Burnham, which is a capacity question," Department Prime Minister and Cabinet chief executive Maarten Weavers said.

•  Bid to restore services 

Electricity generator Meridian Energy says it is working hard to restore all essential services for customers in Christchurch, following yesterday's earthquake.

"We are hoping to get our call centre up and running from other parts of the country as soon as possible," chief executive Tim Lusk said today.

"Our main priority in the next few days is to help people affected by the earthquake as well as to support (electricity network owner) Orion as they work to reconnect and repair the network," Mr Lusk said.

Preliminary assessments following the earthquake indicated no damage to Meridian's generating assets.

•  Southern help on way 

Southland staff from all three emergency services and the Red Cross have been deployed to Christchurch to join the earthquake rescue response.

Emergency Management Southland is coordinating requests for assistance, Advisor Craig Sinclair said.

The Fire Service sent its fully staffed Invercargill command unit to Christchurch overnight, joining the pump unit dispatched yesterday.

Fourteen police left Invercargill this morning, with six ambulance officers, two ambulances and a support vehicle also on their way to Christchurch.

Emergency Management Southland Manager Neil Cruickshank is in transit while the civil defence welfare team which helped in Christchurch after the September quake are all on standby to leave at the weekend.

Other headquarters staff are available to leave immediately but Mr Sinclair said that Emergency Management Southland had yet to hear from the National Crisis Management Centre about exactly who would be needed, and when.

•  Airport reopens 

Christchurch Airport has reopened for domestic flights and it is expected the backlog will be cleared by the end of the day.

But it will take longer to clear international flights which are expected to resume from midday, Christchurch International Airport chief executive Jim Boult said this morning.

All flights were suspended after the 6.3 magnitude quake at 12.51pm yesterday.

"We anticipate opening for international flights at 12 noon today...but it may take a day or two to clear the backlog," Mr Boult told Radio New Zealand.

The airport terminals had been cleared after structural assessments, he said.

"Remarkably the airport has come through in really good shape."

Airlines are putting on additional flights to help get people out and try to clear the backlog.

Air New Zealand is to operate a second return Boeing 747 service between Auckland and Christchurch today.

The airline said it would also operate a special Airbus A320 service from Wellington to Christchurch.
Air New Zealand is offering reduced domestic and international fares for immediate family wishing to travel to or from Christchurch.

•  More welfare centres to open 

More welfare centres are to be opened in Christchurch to help quake affected people, Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says.

"The situation is changing, but currently there are two welfare centres which are operating, at Hagley Park and at Burnside High School.

"More welfare centres will open as soon as buildings are declared safe to use."

Residents were urged to stay home, check on neighbours and call the Government 0800 779997 helpline for advice.

"Food and water is being delivered to the welfare centres and people will be cared for there as we deal with immediate need.

"Financial assistance will also be made available to those who need it, we have the ability to provide Civil Defence emergency payments and other assistance is available."

Three Work and Income centres are open, in Ashburton, Hornby and Rangiora, today for emergencies only, but people were advised not to travel through the city if they could use the Helpline instead.

•  Communications still disrupted

Telecom says disruption to its landline and mobile services in Christchurch continues, and widespread power outages mean large parts of the network are still working off backup power. It is continuing to monitor network capacity and performance, with a particular focus on 111 services and key emergency response sites.

Its 111 services remain stable and available and any issues connecting to 111 are likely to be due to network disruption due to damage, power outages or congestion. People trying to contact 111 should try again if they experience issues connecting. 111 calls are being prioritised.

Telecom is asking people to continue only using their phones for emergency calls.

People without power in their homes will not be able to use cordless landline phones. If customers have non-cordless landline phones that plug directly into the wall and do not require power, they should use them instead.

•  Bridges operational 

Yesterday's 6.3 magnitude quake caused major damage to roads in and around Christchurch but bridges in the region are operational. 

The New Zealand Transport Agency has advised that all state highway bridge structures in the city have been inspected, and while some have sustained damage, all are operational.

Some sections of SH74 are closed but  all other highways remain open.

There appears to be no damage to state highways in Otago, Southland and the West Coast. 
NZTA advises motorists to limit travel to essential trips and to use extreme caution when driving until further notice. 

•  US team to assist

A specialist Disaster Assistance Response Team (Dart) from the United States is heading to Christchurch to help the search and rescue operation following yesterday's destructive 6.3 magnitude quake. 

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) Dart team, is made up of more than 70 specialists, including members of the Los Angeles County Fire Department urban search and rescue team.

The team will also bring "all necessary equipment to make live rescues in even the most precarious situations".

"On behalf of the American people, I wish to convey our sympathy, thoughts and prayers to the people of New Zealand who have been affected by this devastating earthquake," USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah said.

•  Missing persons phone line set up

Red Cross has set up a dedicated telephone number for those people concerned about the whereabouts of friends and family missing following yesterday's Christchurch earthquake.

Callers to the line will be asked to provide details of those missing, including the location they were thought to be at the time of the earthquake, police said in a statement. Red Cross will be able to say if they have registered with Civil Defence.

The number to contact is 0800 RED CROSS (0800 733 276).

People enquiring from outside New Zealand should call +64 7 850 2199.

•  Victims told to source water at schools

Quake-stricken Christchurch victims who need water are being told to go to one of six schools in the city where emergency water supplies are being set up.

Christchurch mayor Bob Parker said the city's water system was put out of action by yesterday's 6.3 magnitude earthquake but the city had established a network of at least six schools where residents could go for water.

"We will have tankers on those sites. You will need to think about taking vessels along to collect water."

He said the schools were Lyttelton, Redcliffs, South New Brighton, Shirley, Wainoni and Phillipstown.

"We have requisitioned food and additional blankets and supplies under our emergency powers with the assistance of some major companies in Christchurch so we can get food and bedding out to our emergency temporary accommodation centres.

He said that around 1000 people spent the night at the welfare centre in Burnside and the Ellerslie Flower Show site in Hagley Park.

•  Flights to return to normal

Flights are expected to return to normal today after yesterday's devastating 6.3 magnitude quake in Christchurch severely disrupted travels plans around the country.

Christchurch Airport spokeswoman Monique Oomen yesterday told NZPA the domestic and international terminals had both suffered some damage and needed to be checked before flights opened again.

Tourists and visitors to Christchurch who spent the night in the city's Hagley Park were the first to leave on two special flights to Auckland and Wellington this morning.

Normal domestic flights were due to resume from 8am.

A decision on the resumption of international flights was due to be made at 10am.

A spokeswoman for Wellington Airport said most planes were now running to schedule.

All flights were halted immediately after the quake but apart from Christchurch resumed about 90 minutes later.
Auckland Airport spokesman Richard Llewellyn said the national air traffic control centre was in Christchurch, and while it was being checked all planes were grounded.

He was unsure how many passengers had been affected.

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