UPDATED: February 24, 2010
At least 113 people have been killed after a 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck Christchurch, New Zealand.
As we wrap up news.com.au's live quake coverage, the death toll stands at 113, with 228 people still missing. Rescue efforts are focused on the CTV and Pyne Gould buildings, and crews have begun removing rubble from the Christchurch Cathedral site. They have found no signs of life. The last person was rescued alive two days ago, but families are still holding out hope for a miracle. Infrastructure is damaged - phone networks are starting to return but the water system is still out, with residents advised to boil water before consumption and conserve their supplies. With these issues affecting the city, plus looters and multiple aftershocks each day, many residents are leaving town.
News.com.au will continue to cover Christchurch's search efforts via Breaking News as the city faces a painful recovery from one of the most devastating earthquakes the region has seen
Read more: http://www.news.com.au/world/quake-aftershock-hits-christchurch/story-e6frfkyi-1226009960218#ixzz1Evsc3ekD_______________________________________________________________________________
Luxury homes teeter on the edge after huge landslides in Redcliffs, near Christchurch, in this photo by Torsten Blackwood from AFP.
The Timeball Station is seen to be badly damaged, a day after the 6.3-magnitude earthquake in the township of Lyttelton near Christchurch, New Zealand, Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2011. (AP Photo/New Zealand Herald, Sarah Ivey) AUSTRALIA OUT, NEW ZEALAND OUT___________________________________________________________________________
NZ earthquake toll at 75 dead, 300 missingWednesday, February 23, 2011
The sister and brother sat huddled Wednesday on sodden grass, staring at the smoldering remains of an office tower that collapsed with their mother inside.
They hadn't heard from Donna Manning since a powerful earthquake tore through one of New Zealand's largest cities a day earlier, killing at least 75 people and leaving some 300 missing in the rubble. Still, there was hope.
"My mum is superwoman, she'd do anything," Manning's 18-year-old daughter Lizzy said, tears streaming down her face.
Just then, a police officer approached and knelt before Lizzy and her 15-year-old brother Kent in the rain. "I have some horrible news..." the officer began.
The teens' faces crumpled, and their father wrapped them in an embrace as the officer gently broke the news that their mother was presumed dead along with everyone else trapped inside the building.
It was a dark moment that was repeated many times over Wednesday as rescuers searched for any signs of life in the twisted rubble of Christchurch. Prime Minister John Key declared the quake a national disaster and analysts estimated its cost at up to $12 billion.
Hundreds of troops, police and emergency workers raced against time and aftershocks that threatened to collapse more buildings. They picked gingerly through the ruins, poking heat-seeking cameras into gaps between tumbles of bricks and sending sniffer dogs over concrete slabs.
Teams rushed in from Australia, the United States, Britain, Japan and elsewhere in Asia, along with a military field hospital and workers to help repair power, water and phone lines that were damaged in all corners of the city of some 350,000 people.
The news was grim at the Canterbury Television building, a seven-story concrete-and-glass structure that housed the regional TV network where Manning had worked as a morning anchorwoman. An English language school used by young visitors from Japan and South Korea was also located there.
The heavy concrete floors lay piled atop one another Wednesday, its central stairwell tower still standing, but leaning precariously.
"We don't believe this site is now survivable," police operations commander Inspector Dave Lawry told reporters. He said rescuers were shifting to sites that were less dangerous and where there was more hope for survivors.
Canterbury TV chairman Nick Smith said 15 of his employees were still missing inside the collapsed building. Also among the missing were 10 Japanese language students from a group of at least 23 students and teachers who were believed in the building, said Teppei Asano, a Japanese official monitoring the situation.
Not far away, cheers erupted Wednesday as rescuers pulled a woman from another crumpled office tower. Ann Bodkin was reunited with her husband after a painstaking rescue from the twisted metal and concrete remains of the Pyne Gould Guinness building. Giant sunbeams burst through the city's gray, drizzly weather as she emerged.
"They got Ann out of the building, and God turned on the lights," Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said.
Police superintendent Russell Gibson said early Thursday that the last survivor had been pulled out at 2 p.m. Wednesday, and no one had been found trapped in the rubble since.
Gibson said the operation had become one of body recovery, though he rejected suggestions that rescuers were abandoning hope of finding anyone alive.
"Yes, we are still looking for survivors," he said on National Radio. "There are pockets within a number of these buildings and, provided people haven't been crushed, there is no reason to suggest we will not continue to get survivors out of there."
He said the search continued in the Canterbury Television building, but "the signs don't look good. There has been a fire in there ... We will continue to pull that building apart, piece by piece, until we are satisfied" there are no more survivors.
Many sections of the city lay in ruins, and police announced a nighttime curfew in a cordoned-off area of downtown to keep people away from dangerous buildings and to prevent crime.
Six people had been arrested since the quake for burglary and theft, said police Superintendent Dave Cliff, announcing that anyone on the streets after 6:30 p.m. without a valid reason could be arrested.
One of the city's tallest buildings, the 27-floor Hotel Grand Chancellor, was showing signs of buckling and was in imminent danger of collapse, Fire Service commander Mike Hall said. Authorities emptied the building and evacuated a two-block radius.
Parker said 120 people were rescued overnight Tuesday, while more bodies were also recovered. About 300 people were still unaccounted for, but this did not mean they were all still trapped, he said.
Key, the prime minister, said early Wednesday that the death toll stood at 75 and was expected to rise. The figure had not been updated by nightfall.
The true toll in life and treasure was still unknown, but the earthquake already was shaping as one of the country's worst disasters.
JP Morgan analyst Michael Huttner conservatively estimated the insurance losses at $12 billion. That would be the most from a natural disaster since Hurricane Ike hit Texas and Louisiana in 2008, costing insurers $19 billion, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
Key said the New Zealand economy could withstand the impact of the quake, the second to strike Christchurch since September.
"Christchurch's economic activity will be much less for a while," he told TV One. "The government will be doing everything it can to economically get Christchurch back on its feet."
Rescuers who rushed into buildings immediately after the quake found horrific scenes.
A construction manager described using sledgehammers and chain saws to cut into the Pyne Gould Guinness building from the roof, hacking downward through layers of sandwiched offices and finding bodies crushed and pulverized under concrete slabs.
One trapped man died after talking awhile with rescuers, Fred Haering said.
Another had a leg pinned under concrete, and a doctor administered medicine to deaden the pain. A firefighter asked Haering for a hacksaw. Haering handed it over and averted his eyes as the man's leg was sawed off, saving him from certain death.
"It's a necessity," Haering said Wednesday. "How are you gonna get out?"
The quake struck just before 1 p.m. local time on Tuesday, when the city was bustling with commerce and tourism. It was less powerful than the 7.1 temblor that struck before dawn on Sept. 4 that damaged buildings but killed no one. Experts said Tuesday's quake was deadlier because it was closer to the city and because more people were about.
Christchurch's airport reopened Wednesday, and military planes were brought in to fly tourists to other cities.
Officials told people to avoid showering or even flushing toilets, saying the damaged sewer system was at risk of failing. School classes in the city were suspended, and residents advised to stay home.
Christchurch's main hospital was inundated with people suffering head and chest injuries, said spokeswoman Amy Milne. But officials said the health system was coping, with some patients moved to other cities.
Tanker trucks were stationed at 14 spots throughout the city where residents could come to fill buckets and bottles, civil defense officials said, and people asked to catch and save rainwater.
New Zealand earthquake causes ice to break off glacier
CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AP) -- The earthquake that struck Christchurch has caused some 30 million tons of ice to break off from New Zealand's biggest glacier.
Tour guides at the Tasman Glacier in the Southern Alps say the quake caused the ice to "calve" from the glacier, forming icebergs in the terminal lake.
Tourists of Glacier Explorer boats say the icefall caused waves of up to 3.5 meters in height which swept up and down the lake for 30 minutes.
The glacier is about 120 miles (200 kilometers) from Christchurch on the west coast.
The powerful earthquake struck Christchurch on Tuesday, toppling tall buildings and churches, crushing buses and killing at least 65 people.
Christchurch earthquake: 150 feared dead on New Zealand's 'darkest day'
More than 150 are feared dead after a major earthquake hit Christchurch, one of New Zealand's biggest cities, in what the prime minister described "New Zealand's darkest day".At least 65 were killed, according to John Key, the prime minister.
Bob Parker, the mayor of Christchurch, added that more than 100 are believed to be trapped in buildings.
The Queen, who is also New Zealand's head of state, expressed her sadness at the 6.3 magnitude quake, saying she was "utterly shocked" by the news.
"Please convey my deep sympathy to the families and friends of those who have been killed; my thoughts are with all those who have been affected by this dreadful event," she said.
"My thoughts are also with the emergency services and everyone who is assisting in the rescue efforts."
A state of emergency was declared following the quake, which struck at 12.51pm on Tuesday local time (2351GMT Monday), when office blocks and shopping centres in the city centre were bustling with people.
Rescue workers scrambled to free scores of people trapped in buildings, some crews arriving by helicopter because streets were blocked by rubble and jammed traffic.
Officials fear the death toll could double amid reports that more than 200 were trapped in collapsed buildings and wreckage of homes. Bodies were seen lying in the streets, untended until emergency services were able to reach them.
A special "person finder" established by Google, the search engine giant, said it was currently tracking more than 3,600 "records".
Twelve Japanese students, from a foreign language school and originally from Toyama city, have been reported missing in the rubble of a Christchurch building.
Bystanders dug with bare hands to rescue survivors trapped under piles of rubble. Some reports said the city had ran out of ambulances, with rescuers forced to use private vehicles.
As night fell, welfare centres become full with locals who could not return to their homes. All Christchurch schools were closed until further notice.
Late on Tuesday the military was sent in to help with rescue efforts as rain started falling and temperatures fell.
Mr Key, the prime minister who has flown to the city, described what he saw as "utter devastation".
"We may be witnessing New Zealand's darkest day," he told reporters.
"The death toll I have at the moment is 65 and that may rise.
"So it's an absolute tragedy for this city, for New Zealand, for the people that we care so much about."
No area throughout the country's second largest city was considered safe as strong aftershocks sent dislodged masonry raining down on to the streets below. Power and water has been cut to most of the city.
All Christchurch schools and early childhood services are closed until further notice.
Police warned there would be "multiple fatalities" throughout the region and the fire service said numerous people were trapped and that two buses had been crushed. There were reports of bodied pulled from a youth hostel and bookshop in the city.
The Australian government quickly scrambled rescue and medical teams to area, the Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced.
William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, said Britain stood "ready to provide any assistance that we can".
“I was shocked and saddened to hear of the devastating earthquake that struck Christchurch earlier today killing so many people," he said.
"The ties that bind the UK with New Zealand are very close and my thoughts are with the friends and families of all those who have lost their lives and been affected by the earthquake.
“Many people in the UK with links to New Zealand will be watching anxiously as the situation develops."
He added: "Our High Commissioner in New Zealand is on her way to Christchurch and we stand ready to provide any assistance that we can to the authorities and to any British Nationals who have been caught up in the earthquake.”
Hundreds of doctors from around the world gathered in Christchurch for a conference are helping in makeshift hospitals established throughout the city.
The power of the quake, which was far more violent one that struck the city in September, caused the cathedral's spire in the centre of Christchurch to crumble and knocked out phone lines.
Several large building were reduced to piles of twisted debris, pipes burst across the city and large holes had appeared in roads.
The city's hospital and airport were evacuated and dozens of shocked and injured residents gathered in open spaces as alarms and sirens sounded across the city.
There were scenes of confusion and chaos as police tried to get people out of the city centre as the earth continued to shake during several strong aftershocks.
Streets were gridlocked, glass carpeted the pavements and power was out to 80 per cent of Christchurch.
Footage from the scene showed cars crushed underneath large piles of rubble and several seriously injured people being carried on makeshift stretchers from collapsed buildings.
Distressed people could be seen trapped inside damaged buildings and screaming could be heard as firefighters picked their way though the debris.
The earthquake caused a 30 million-tonne chunk of ice to break off from the Tasman Glacier, more than 150 miles away on the West Coast.
Bill English, the Deputy Prime Minister, said 35 military personal were on the ground providing first aid and support to the city's major most affected areas. Another 250 would arrive in first thing on Wednesday.
The chaotic scenes were far different from last September's "miracle", when no one was killed in a 7.1 magnitude quake.
Tuesday's much shallower quake, just two miles below the surface, caused several office blocks to collapse as well as destroying the 110-year-old Anglican cathedral. It has been described as the worst earthquake to hit the country in 80 years.
Bob Parker, the city's mayor, said the death toll could double. He urged residents to stay at home, conserve water and stay calm.
"We are in the middle of a major disaster on global terms," he said.
"There are people fighting for their lives at the moment but there are also people fighting for them.
"We're in the middle of an extremely serious situation."
He added: "We're preparing ourselves for what I think will be a really sad, bleak day for our city but be reassured everybody is doing what they can."
"Everybody needs to understand that this is going to be a day of very black news.
"This is about as bad as it gets. I think we need to prepare ourselves for a death toll that will be significant."
Gary Moore said he and 19 other colleagues were trapped in their twelfth floor office after the stairwell collapsed in the quake. He did not know if people on other floors were trapped.
"We watched the cathedral collapse out our window while we were holding onto the walls," Mr Moore said. "Every aftershock sends us rushing under the desks. It's very unnerving but we can clearly see there are other priorities out the window. There has been a lot of damage and I guess people are attending to that before they come and get us."
The Pyne Gould Guinness Building, a multi-storey building containing more than 200 workers, has collapsed and an unknown number of people are trapped inside.
Television pictures showed rescuers, many of them office workers, dragging severely injured people from the rubble. Many had blood streaming down their faces.
Bob Bufton, who was in a having lunch in a Thai restaurant when the quake struck, said it was "horrendous".
"The young ladies in the restaurant were screaming, it was tremendous, the last quake was nothing compared to this.
"I looked down the street and there was just dust."
Peter Beck, Dean of the Anglican Cathedral, said he had no idea of how many people were inside when the building fell.
Christchurch resident Jaydn Katene told the New Zealand Herald:"We've had friends in town call us and say there are just bodies lying around.
"Lots of dead bodies outside shops just lying there, just covered in bricks.
"When it hit we were knocked to our feet. Everything in the house fell down, nothing was left still standing.
"The roads are completely torn up, sewage coming up and flooding.
"The elderly are all crying," said Mr Katene.
"We've seen cars halfway sunken into the road.
"We've heard there's a bus which is sunken halfway into the road, just around the corner.
"Buildings are half-collapsed everywhere.
"It smells horrible. The roads are packed with cars.
"There aren't enough police or ambulances. Houses are all collapsing.
"It's pretty shocking, a total war zone."
The quake was felt as far away as Wellington, on the North Island.
New Zealand sits on the Pacific "ring of fire" — an arc of earthquake and volcanic zones stretching from Chile in South America through Alaska and down through the South Pacific.
New Zealand PM says quake kills at least 65By Gyles Beckford
WELLINGTON (Reuters) – A strong earthquake killed at least 65 people in New Zealand's second-biggest city of Christchurch with more casualties expected as desperate rescuers picked through rubble to find people trapped in toppled buildings.
It was the second quake to hit the city in five months.
"We may well be witnessing New Zealand's darkest day...The death toll I have at the moment is 65 and that may rise," New Zealand Prime Minister John Key told local TV.
The 6.3 magnitude quake struck at lunchtime, when the streets and shops were thronged with people and the offices were still occupied.
Christchurch's mayor described the city of almost 400,000 people as a war zone.
"There will be deaths, there will be a lot of injuries, there will be a lot of heart break in this city," Mayor Bob Parker told Australian TV by phone.
Helicopters dumped giant buckets of water to try to douse a fire in one tall office building. A crane helped rescue workers trapped in another office block.
"I was in the square right outside the cathedral -- the whole front has fallen down and there were people running from there. There were people inside as well," said John Gurr, a camera technician who was in the city center when the quake hit.
Authorities ordered major hospitals up and down the country to make room for quake victims. There were reports of a shortage of ambulances.
"A lady grabbed hold of me to stop falling over...We just got blown apart. Colombo Street, the main street, is just a mess...There's lots of water everywhere, pouring out of the ground," Gurr said.
Emergency crews picked through the rubble, including a multi-storey office building whose floors appeared to have pancaked on top of each other.
SILT, SAND AND GRAVEL
Christchurch is built on silt, sand and gravel, with a water table beneath. In an earthquake, the water rises, mixing with the sand and turning the ground into a swamp and swallowing up sections of road and entire cars.
TV footage showed sections of road that had collapsed into a milky, sand-colored lake right beneath the surface. One witness described the footpaths as like "walking on sand."
Unlike last year's even stronger tremor, which struck early in the morning when streets were virtually empty, people were walking or driving along streets when the shallow tremor struck, sending awnings and the entire faces of buildings crashing down.
Police said debris had rained down on two buses, crushing them, but there was no word whether anyone had been killed or injured.
The quake hit at 12:51 pm (6:51 p.m. ET Monday) at a depth of only 4 km (2.5 miles), according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
"It's huge, it's just huge," a priest told a TV reporter outside the remains of the city's stone cathedral, part of which had been reduced to a pile of large sandstone blocks.
"I just don't know whether there are people under this rubble," he said, before he appeared to add in a quiet voice: "I think so."
TALK OF POST-QUAKE RATE CUT
The quake helped knock the New Zealand dollar down to $0.75, about 1.8 percent off late U.S. levels, on fears the damage could dent confidence in the already fragile economy.
Westpac Bank also raised the possibility that the central bank could cut interest rates over the next few weeks to shore up confidence after the quake, while other banks pushed out their expectations for the next rate hike. ANZ now expects the central bank to be on hold until the first quarter of 2012.
Shares in Australian banks and insurers, which typically have large operations in New Zealand, fell after the quake. But credit rating agency Fitch said the tremor would not itself trigger a downgrade of New Zealand sovereign rating.
The tremor was centered about 10 km (six miles) southwest of Christchurch, which had suffered widespread damage during last September's 7.1 magnitude quake but no deaths.
James Goff, of the University of New South Wales' Natural Hazards Research Laboratory in Australia, said some buildings that survived last year's quake had been weakened and unable to withstand the second one, especially such a shallow tremor.
"A lot of the infrastructure has still not fully recovered from the last earthquake so that would have still been feeling weak and susceptible to another big earthquake," he said.
The region has been struck by thousands of aftershocks since the original quake.
6.3 quake hits southern New Zealand; 'massive' damage, 'many' deathsFeb 21, 2011
By Michael Winter, USA TODAY
Updated at 9:17 p.m. ET: Four more aftershocks have shaken the city, ranging in magnitude from 3.4 to 5.5, the New Zealand Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences reports.
Four quakes registering magnitudes 2.5 to 3.7 jiggled the region Tuesday morning before the 6.3 shaker, the first at 3:25 a.m. and the last at 9:15 a.m., the agency says.
Updated at 9 p.m. ET: All flights have been grounded in New Zealand while officials assess the national air traffic control system, which is located in Christchurch, the New Zealand Press Association reports. Planes are landing, however.
New Zealand Telecom says some of its phone networks have been badly damaged.
Updated at 8:56 p.m. ET: TVNZ has a live video stream.
Updated at 8:39 p.m. ET: Police report that two city buses were crushed by falling debris and that "multiple" building have collapsed, with people trapped, Radio New Zealand reports. The city's main hospital is being evacuated.
Though weaker than the powerful magnitude 7.1 earthquake Sept. 4, today's was relatively shallow, just 3.1 miles deep, and it struck just offshore from the city on the east coast of the South Island.
Updated at 8:24 p.m. ET: Christchurch fire officials are reporting "many fatalities," The Press now says.
Updated at 8:07 p.m. ET: The Press reports "massive damage" and injuries in Christchurch, with people reportedly trapped in downtown buildings and houses.
Witnesses said there are certain to be deaths.
The city's historic Anglican cathedral, its namesake, has been badly damaged, with witnesses calling it "destroyed." The paper has a photo that shows the cathedral standing, surrounded by rubble, its spire toppled.
Though weaker than the powerful magnitude 7.4 earthquake Sept. 4, today's was relatively shallow, just 3.1 miles deep, and it struck just offshore from the city on the east coast of the South Island.
Updated at 8:01 p.m. ET: The Star newspaper in Christchurch has photos of some of the damage caused by the quake that struck just over an hour ago.
Original post: An earthquake with a premilinary magnitude of 6.3 has hit New Zealand's southern island city of Christchurch, which was damaged extensively last year by a 7.4 temblor, the U.S. Geological Survey reports.
The quake hit at 12:51 p.m. Tuesday local time (6:51 p.m. ET Monday), followed 10 minutes later by an aftershock registering 5.6.
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