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Christchurch Earthquake - General Update

Christchurch City Council Media Advisory

Christchurch Earthquake - General Update

6am Sunday 5 September 2010

Overnight, staff at the emergency response centre in Christchurch have been consolidating information received throughout the day on Saturday; working on an action plan; and prioritising tasks to be done today.

More than 500 buildings in the city are damaged - more than 90 of those in the central city area.

While there has been damage to some minor bridges, major bridges have withstood the quake. Some roads have been closed due to liquefaction or flooding

Most calls to the Council are about water supply and damage to chimneys.

* Water supply has resumed for all but 15-20% of the city, and today's efforts will focus on the remaining areas (though some areas may not have their water supply restored for a number of days). There are more than 200 water leaks around the city - about 100 of which are reasonably significant. There could be further disruptions to water supplies as parts of the system are turned off so that repairs can be made. Where water is available, it should still be used sparingly to avoid putting too much pressure on the waste water system. The waste treatment works at Bromley are operating and the waste water trunk mains appear to be intact, although there is significant localised damage to waste water pipes. Residents are asked to flush toilets only sparingly. Some sewage overflows to rivers may occur as people increase their water use and the broken waste water mains struggle to cope with demand. Portaloos have been provided in parts of the city and more will be provided as they can be sourced.

* Brighton and Brooklands and parts of Avonside are the worst hit areas in the city and public health issues may yet force evacuations.

* Even though water coming out of the taps may appear normal, drinking water should be boiled for three minutes before drinking.

* Water tankers will be located around the city to the areas of greatest need.

* Diamond Harbour's water supply has been restored and will slowly return to normal.

* Because of unstable buildings and concerns about aftershocks, people are asked to minimise travel and only make essential journeys in the city.

* All Christchurch City Council leisure centres will be closed on Sunday, 5 September. They will remain closed until Monday morning, when staff will reassess the situation.

* Power has been restored to 90% of Christchurch. Power can not be restored in the central city until all buildings are checked.

* Anyone whose home is not habitable or who feels unsafe staying there should consider self-evacuating to friends and family in the first instance.

* Welfare centres are located at Addington Raceway, Linwood College and Burnside High School, offering shelter and food to residents. Anyone wanting to go to a welfare centre should take their own toiletries and wherever possible also take their own bedding - including pillow, blankets and some form of mattress to sleep on (such as a camping mat). The welfare centres will remain open as long as they are needed. Numbers catered for last night at the three centres were:

Linwood College - 85 people
Burnside High School - 109 people
Addington Raceway - 50 people

* Residents are advised not to use open fires because of the risk of further aftershocks that could damage chimneys. There have already been more than 30 significant aftershocks in the city since the major quakes yesterday morning (recording magnitudes of up to 5.4) and these could continue for several weeks. These aftershocks could cause further damage to already weakened structures and buildings, or could cause fresh damage.

* Forecast weather for the city is likely to bring fresh challenges for residents and for the Christchurch City Council. Strong gusty nor'west winds are expected in the city today and tomorrow, followed by rain on Tuesday. The strong winds could result in further damage to buildings and structures already damaged in yesterday's earthquake; while rain is likely to create stormwater issues for already stressed city infrastructure as well as create problems for residents who have properties that have been damaged and may now be exposed

* Starting this morning at 9am, 20-25 teams from the Council's Building Evaluation Team will move through the cordoned off area of the central city, inspecting all buildings within this zone. Each building will be tagged after it has been inspected - with red placards assigned where buildings are considered unsafe and can not be entered; yellow placards assigned where restricted use is permitted; and green placards assigned where there are no restrictions on a building's use. It is hoped that this process can be completed for all buildings within the cordoned off area by the end of the day today. Once this information is available, yellow and green placarded buildings will be able to be cleaned up on Monday. There will be no public access to the cordoned central city area before Monday - with the exception of residents. The cordon covers the area bounded by Madras, St Asaph, Montreal and Kilmore Streets.

This morning's key messages:

* Today is a day for further damage assessment
* We are asking people to keep travel to a minimum
* Water coming out of the tap may look normal, but needs to be boiled for three minutes before drinking
* Water tankers will be sent to areas of greatest need
* The three welfare centres will remain open as long as they are needed - take personal toiletries and all bedding.

END

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