Christchurch Earthquake Day 4 24 February 2011

Many People Are Evacuating The Area

The numbers of people who took refuge in the welfare centres the first night exceeded 2000. It was reported today that only around 500 people took refuge in these centres last night. However, this figure may not be correct: It is difficult, with the situation constantly changing, to present accurate figures to the media at any given time.

Many of the 2000 homeless people will have been taken in by friends or relatives, some will have returned to their homes if they can, and others will have fled Christchurch.

To The Bereaved: Our thoughts go out, especially, to the families of all those who have lost loved ones in the quake. Only four people’s names had been released at noon today, although many more people lie in the mortuary.

The Exodus from Christchurch: Air New Zealand has been running flights from and to Christchurch for only $50. This special service is expected to run until Sunday. Since the event of the earthquake, Air New Zealand has provided seats for roughly between 1000 and 2500 passengers each day. They have increased the amount of flights with each passing day. It is probable that many people have already taken advantage of this incredibly cheap offer to be transported elsewhere in New Zealand, away from the danger zone of Christchurch, where after shocks are still being felt.

Housing New Zealand have suggested that people in other parts of N.Z. who have the room, or a house to rent, might help by offering any available accommodation to Housing N.Z. who have offered to manage these situations properly and legally.

Flights have been regulated whilst the CBD area was being searched for living people. Rescuers needed to listen out for cries for help from the mountains of rubble. The noise of jets running overhead meant that people could not be heard if they were calling out, so flights were restricted to make their cries audible. However, the CBD area has been fairly thoroughly worked by rescue teams, and so flight restrictions have been lifted. The efforts of rescue workers have been extended out to the suburbs.

Christchurch Train Service: A phenomenal effort has been made to restore the train service out of Christchurch. Parts of the lines were severely damaged in the quake, which rendered the train service useless. The damaged lines are being repaired. The main trunk line down to Dunedin, I think, had previously been made defunct, as it was thought to be uneconomic to keep it open, but I see in yesterday’s paper that this line will be reopened to make access to and from Christchurch easier.

Lyttleton Port Will Be Reopened: Work is being carried out to restore and open the Port of Lyttleton. Lyttleton was very badly hit in the quake, as the epicentre of the quake was below, or very close, to Lyttleton.

Road Closure: There are still 32 roads closed in and around Christchurch. 13 bridges have been destroyed. It may be some time before these can all be repaired.

Motorways Still Open: However, it is thought that the main arterial routes, the motorways, are still operational.

After-Shocks: There were 15 aftershocks reported yesterday, from midnight until the News at 6 A.M. The largest was a 4.4 magnitude quake, which is still pretty scary. Today, at 6 A.M., only 6 aftershocks were reported. The intensity of these quakes has diminished, with the largest of these after-shocks being 3.9, a little lower than yesterday’s 4.4. at 9.45 A.M Daylight Saving Time.

These after-shocks are still causing havoc: People were evacuated last night, around 11 P.M., from 12 streets in the Redcliffs area. Many people self-evacuated from this area before it was officially evacuated. Falling rocks from the cliffs were hazardous, and caused damage to several homes in Redcliffs.

70 Live Rescues Made To Date: Alas, T.V News at 6 A.M this morning said that no live rescues had been made since 3 P.M. Wednesday. So far, 70 live rescues have been made.

However, more bodies have been recovered overnight, which will be some relief to the poor families of these people. The death toll is now 103 people at 10 A.M.- This has risen to 113 people at 12.30 P.M.

More people, unfortunately, are expected to be added to the list of the dead. Around 120 people have probably died in the collapsed 5-storied CTV building, where regional Canterbury television offices, and a language school, were situated. Rescue crews have been tackling this building and, by around 10 A.M. have worked through the top two floors.

Chinese Students Perish: It is thought that 43 language students are among the people who have died in the CTV building. Some of these people are Chinese students. Chinese rescue people arrived today in Christchurch to assist in the rescue efforts.

Brits Perish: Two Brits are among the people known to have perished in the quake. A British team of rescuers and support people have arrived from Britain to help with rescue and clean-up.

More people are arriving to help, about lunchtime today, from the U.S.A.

Aussie Medical Unit: An Aussie team of medical people are arriving to set up a field medical unit today. Huge demands have been put on medical staff and volunteers: more than 2000 people have so far been treated for injuries. Hospital facilities are stretched. There are 11 people in intensive care.

New Zealand Armed Services: Christchurch is fortunate to have these resourceful men and women to help. About 1000 servicemen have been deployed at Christchurch to aid in the rescue situation.

Police and Firemen: Like many of the armed servicemen, doctors and nurses, ambulance staff and other helpers, many of these brave individuals have given up their time and their own personal worries and losses to help others in Christchurch.

Missing People: There are still 226 people missing. If you have any enquiries regarding missing people, the best number to phone is the Red Cross on 0800733276. Alternatively, phone the 0800 779997 Helpline number.

These phone lines which have been set up have well and truly been effective. There have been more than 20,000 calls so far.

Electricity: Power was apparently put on to 50% of the houses in Christchurch by last night, and today, at 10 A.M., that figure has increased to 75%. It is hoped that by tonight 80% of houses will have the power back on. This means, apart from the welcome news that people can now cook food again, and have their lights on at night, that people can see the television coverage on their television sets.

Up until now, people have been mainly relying on transistor radios, and sharing information ‘via the grapevine’ to people who are not in the know. Having television coverage means that people could be alarmed even more, as they are now able to see the extent of the damage in their beloved city. People could become very depressed and despondent as they are made aware of the unfortunate details, the extent of the damage, and the loss of lives.

Water Service: All the city’s water pumps were put out of action in the earthquake on 22nd February 2011. Christchurch people have had their water brought into them by tanker: Fonterra apparently were doing the honours for water supply, bringing loads of water from down-country into the schools, which have been serving as water stations, among other things.

People need to go and collect their water from these water stations. Mayor Bob Parker has stressed, again, that people should work together: Don’t drive one car down to the school just to collect your own water. Collect somebody else’s whilst you are about it: Conserve petrol, prevent congestion on those damaged roads, and help your neighbours.

Good News For Water: It was reported on the late news last night that 50% of houses had their water on again, or were about to have. People were encouraged to begin flushing their loos with abandon, after a period of ‘if it’s yellow, let it mellow……if it’s brown, flush it down’. It was stressed, though, that if you could tell that pipes were broken on your property, then the activity of flushing the toilet should cease.

Mayor Bob said that flushing, provided your pipes were in good shape, one assumes, would be helpful to engineers and maintenance people on the look-out for damage to the city’s sewage system.

Toilet Humour: T.V. One said at lunch-time today that you want to reassure your children. They suggested making a joke with each after-shock, for the benefit of young children: They suggested you tell them “OOOOh – listen to that…..The earth is farting…”, and then to explain that relief should be felt after each quake, once the pressure is off. We might have shot Paul Henry for that…

Beware of Imposters: Since the rescue teams have moved out into the suburbs, where they have begun inspecting damage to houses and infrastructure, several cases of people posing as building inspectors or other officials have been reported. Now that there are so many helpers ‘on the ground’ – 1000 New Zealand Servicemen, for a start, it is relatively easy for the ne’er-do-wells to pretend that they have something to do with the official exercise.

Make sure you have the person’s identity before you let him into your house, and before you start giving out information. Do double check the I.D too – even I.D.’s can be copied or faked. Anyone can purchase a shiny yellow road jacket such as the police wear when they are working on pointsman duties, or running alcohol checks. If you have any doubts, then it is recommended that you phone one of the free-phone lines above, the Helpline, 0800 779997, or the Red Cross.

Rugby World Cup In Doubt: It is not certain at this stage whether Christchurch will be in a fit state to host the Rugby World Cup. The damage is simply incomprehensible, and so is the cost of repair and rebuilding. We will have to wait on this.

Flags at Half Mast: To acknowledge the bereaved and the dead, it has been stipulated by the authorities that a minute’s silence will be observed at every rubgy game in New Zealand this weekend, and all flags will fly at half mast.

Census Canceled: Because of the tragedy in Christchurch, the N.Z. Government has canceled the national census which was to take place next Tuesday, the 1st March 2011.

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