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Quake day two: Wellington CBD reopens, rescue mission on way to Kaikoura

A quick summary of key developments.

Tue, 15 Nov 2016

Key developments the day after the 7.5 magnitude Kaikoura Quake:

  • Aftershocks continue to hit the South Island and the bottom of the North Island every few minutes. Most are around the 3 mark, although one around 8.15am was 5, centred on Kaikoura. GeoNet says aftershocks could continue for months or years (see the agency's latest probability table here).
  • The Wellington CBD reopens for business today but with a number of areas cordoned, particularly around Featherston St as structural assessment on some buildings continues (see the latest Wellington Civil Defence emergency map here). Among the damaged are Statistics NZ's building, which has had a floor pancaked.
  • The HMNZS Canterbury sailed from Auckland for Kaikoura to pick up stranded tourists and locals, who number around 1200 [UPDATE: the navy now says the Canterbury won't arrive until tomorrow, due to bad weather.]
  • Around 50 helicopters will also be used for the evacuation and resupply effort. A group of Chinese tourists has already been choppered out. While tourism operators are nervous about the impact of quake coverage, some of it has been positive, such as the 400 fresh crayfish diverted as emergency food supplies for the quake-hit region.
  • Beyond the crays, the reality is grimmer for Kaikoura locals with a local supermarket reopening but rationing staples like bread and milk.
  • Road access to Kaikoura is expected to reopen by the end of the week. There are no estimates on when the coast road from Picton to Christchurch will be re-opened, the PM says.
  • Spark (with a signal booster) and Vodafone (installing a microwave backhaul link) both took steps to restore mobile phone service for Kaikoura. A Chorus tech arrived at the local phone exchange with a satellite phone to reroute emergency calls. Spark received brickbats yesterday after the 111 service fell over for 30 minutes after the initial quake but also bouquets after it offered unrestricted free wi-fi. Spark, Vodafone and Chorus are also joining forces on an 'aqua cable' project as a potential workaroud for the savaged fibre optic cable that runs alongside State Highway 1.
  • After a tour of Kaikoura yesterday afternoon, Prime Minister John Key and Civil Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee said damage was worse than they initially thought and will cost several billion dollars and take months to repair. A series of major slips covering State Highway 1 and the rail line along the cost are among the key points of concern.
  • Steven Joyce has been put in charge of an effort to put together a business continuity package.
  • Rail service has resumed on the Johnsonville, Hutt Valley and Melling lines and the Wairarapa line but with reduced seats.
  • Wellington bus services have resumed but with alternate routes to avoid closed-off areas of the CBD (details here).
  • Harbour ferry services remain suspended due to damage to the wharf at Day's Bay.
  • The casualty toll remains two (one a heart attack). About 20 injuries have been reported.
  • Parliament will resume as scheduled today.
  • Silver linings dept: The PM reportedly missed a call from US President-elect Donald Trump yesterday as he dealt with the quake aftermath.
  • State Highway 1, Picton to Blenheim/Seddon is now open but Seddon to Cheviot remains closed. Cheviot to Christchurch is open.
  • NZTA says it is working urgently with Kaikoura District Council to open the inland road (old State Highway 70) between Culverden and Kaikoura. Work is continuing today to assess the road and structures for damage, and crews will do everything possible to have this route safely open within days.
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Quake day two: Wellington CBD reopens, rescue mission on way to Kaikoura