Build­ings not ready for killer- size quake

Townsville Bulletin - - World Snapshot -

BUILD­INGS in Christchurch were not built to cope with the fero city of the 6.3-mag­ni­tude killer earth­quake that ripped through the South Is­land city, the coun­cil says.

All 1750 build­ings in the CBD met with in­ter­na­tional build­ing stan­dards, most re­cently re­viewed in 1984, Can­ter­bury Coun­cil Build­ings Man­ager Steve Mc­Carthy said.

How­ever, the code – which is a min­i­mum stan­dard – didn’t take in to con­sid­er­a­tion a quake so close and so shal­low as last Tues­day’s.

‘‘ The earth­quake last Tues­day was 50 per cent more than one could have ex­pected and the ground moved, and it moved the build­ings and that ac­cel­er­a­tion af­fected the build­ings,’’ Mr Mc­Carthy said.

‘‘ The unique thing about the earth­quake as well was that it ver­ti­cally lifted the ground and build­ings and then dumped them back on the ground at two times the force of grav­ity.

‘‘ Con­se­quently the buildi ngs have failed and i t couldn’t have been ex­pected and it cer­tainly wasn’t de­signed for it.’’

In­ter­na­tional crews have fo­cused res­cue ef­forts on two build­ings in par­tic­u­lar –Can­ter­bury Tele­vi­sion ( CTV) and Pyne Gould Cor­po­ra­tion ( PGC) – the sites of most of the 148 de­ceased re­cov­ered so far.

Coun­cil of­fi­cials deemed both of the build­ings safe af­ter an ex­ter­nal ex­am­i­na­tion was con­ducted fol­low­ing Septem­ber’s 7.1 mag­ni­tude quake.

It’s not a re­quire­ment to fol­low up on these ex­ter­nal as­sess­ments, and the re­spon­si­bil­ity falls on the build­ings’ own­ers to en­sure the safety of the site, Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said yes­ter­day.

‘‘ We have full con­fi­dence in their eval­u­a­tions,’’ Mr Mc­Carthy said.

‘‘ We were never ad­vised of any is­sue of ei­ther of those build­ings.’’

Over the last week, coun­cil have ex­ter­nally ex­am­ined all the build­ings within the four, most hard-hit blocks of the CBD and slapped 640 of t hem with red sticker s , deem­ing them too dan­ger­ous to en­ter. The coun­cil has not spo­ken to the own­ers of the build­ings, but plans to, Mr Parker said, how­ever he said he wasn’t in a po­si­tion to name them.

Crews weren’t able to re­cover any more bod­ies yes­ter­day, with the death toll re­main­ing at 148. With at least 50 peo­ple still miss­ing, po­lice ex­pect this num­ber to rise. Acting Na­tional Con­troller Steve Bra­zier said that 30 per cent of the build­ings in the CBD will re­quire heavy ma­chin­ery t o sift through the rub­ble and lo­cate bod­ies.

‘‘ It would be fair to say though that this has been now some con­sid­er­able time since we had any sign of life on any of the sites we have been con­duct­ing op­er­a­tions within the four block area,’’ said leader of the Ur­ban Search and Res­cue team, Jim Stu­art-Black.

‘‘ It is highly un­likely that we will en­counter live vic­tims within col­lapse struc­tures. Real­is­ti­cally, it would be a mir­a­cle if we were to en­counter some­body at this stage on any of the sites.’’

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