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Quake day three: Molesworth St building to be demolished; quake upgraded to 7.8

A quick summary of key developments.

Wed, 16 Nov 2016

Key developments: 

  • Geonet has upgraded Monday's 12.02am quake from 7.5 to 7.8 magnitude. The upgrade means stronger aftershocks are more likely (see GeoNet's latest probability table here).

  • Wellington Council has confirmed the office building at 61 Molesworth Street will be demolished. Engineers say the 10-storey high-rise, just 100m away from the Beehive, is at significant risk of collapse. The building is owned by NBR Rich Lister Eyal Aharoni and was not listed as earthquake prone by the council.

  • The first road route into Kaikoura has been partially re-opened, with SH70 from Culverden cleared for military-style 4WD vehicles. 

  • Statistics NZ says it will be several months before staff are allowed back into the building it occupies on Wellington's waterfront. Concrete beams were ripped from the outside of the building causing the ceilings to partially collapse, owners CentrePort say.

  • New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) headquarters on Aitken St near Parliament, has also been closed as "uninhabitable" due to earthquake damage. The building houses around 1200 staff. Officials won't give a timeline but RNZ quoted one source saying repairs would take at least a year.

  • The Queensgate Mall in Lower Hutt, which houses 182 shops, has been closed until at least the end of the week for quake damage assessment. The growing list of abandoned buildings also includes the Tennyson Apartments on Tennyson Street and a 40-apartment Ryman Healthcare retirement village in  Khandallah.

  • International warships headed to the International Naval Review in Auckland have been diverted to Kaikoura. NZDF has accepted offers of help from naval ships from the United States, Australia, Canada, Japan and Singapore.  The USS Sampson, HMAS Darwin and HMCS Vancouver are heading to quake-hit areas, where their helicopters will help deliver supplies and evacuate people. The HMSNZ Canterbury is expected to evacuate around 200 people today.

  • Roads and rail services into Wellington are reopening today after surface flooding and slips caused rush hour gridlock yesterday. MetService says it will be drier today, but that more unsettled weather is ahead.

  • Aftershocks continue every few minutes (see GeoNet's latest report here and its latest aftershock probability table here).

  • Transport Minister Simon Bridges says it will be several days before road access to Kaikoura is restored. Around 5000kg of supplies have now been delivered to stranded residents.

  • Finance Minister Bill English says the cost of infrastructure repairs will run into the sngle-digit billions. "The main arterial route for the North and South Islands is going to be significantly disrupted in parts for quite some time and the cost of restoring that will fall to the government, or quite a lot of it," he told a press conference yesterday. The Wellington and Picton ports will also require major repairs.

  • No prizes for guessing which element of the quake international media is focussed on:

  • Spark, Vodafone and Chorus have joined forces on an "aqua cable" project to restore telecommunications services to Kaikoura, but warn the work could take months.

  • Privacy Commissioner John Edwards says he visitors to quake-hit areas, where there have been a number of lootinlootingents, are not being required to carry photo ID as earlier reported in some publications. "The Police have reassured me that this is not the case, Locals, as well as tourists, travelling in the area may be asked  to discuss their travel intentions but there is no current legal power to require a traveller to carry or produce photo ID beyond the usual requirement for drivers to show a valid drivers licence," Mr Edwards says.

  • New photos have revealed the extent the land has been scarred around quake-hit areas. See NBR's latest gallery below.

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Quake day three: Molesworth St building to be demolished; quake upgraded to 7.8