Na­tion evac­u­ates quake-hit town

Re­cov­ery and re­build­ing will ‘take months, cost bil­lions’ as af­ter­shocks con­tinue to rat­tle re­gion

China Daily (USA) - - WORLD - By REUTERS in­Welling­ton

New Zealand emer­gency ser­vices and de­fense per­son­nel evac­u­ated hun­dreds of tourists and res­i­dents from a small South Is­land town amid more strong af­ter­shocks on Tues­day, a day af­ter a pow­er­ful earth­quake killed two peo­ple.

The 7.8-mag­ni­tude tremor struck just af­ter mid­night on Sun­day, de­stroy­ing farm homesteads, send­ing glass and ma­sonry top­pling from build­ings in the cap­i­tal, Welling­ton, and cut­ting road and rail links through­out the north­east of the ruggedly beau­ti­ful South Is­land.

As af­ter­shocks con­tin­ued to rat­tle the re­gion, emer­gency ser­vices cor­doned off streets in Welling­ton and evac­u­ated sev­eral build­ings due to fears one of them might col­lapse.

Welling­ton Mayor Justin Lester said the va­cant build­ing ap­peared to have suf­fered struc­tural dam­age when the land it was on sub­sided in the quake. A fire ser­vice of­fi­cial said a ma­jor struc­tural beam had “snapped like a bone”.

Thetownof Kaik­oura, a pop­u­lar base for whale-watch­ing about 150 kilo­me­ter­snorth­east of Christchurch, the South Is­land’s main city, re­mained cut off by mas­sive land­slips.

Four De­fense Force he­li­copters flewinto thetownonTues­day morn­ing and two Navy ves­sels were head­ing to the area car­ry­ing sup­plies and to as­sist with the evac­u­a­tion, act­ing com­man­der of New Zealand joint forces, told TVNZ.

“We’re look­ing to do as many flights as we can out of Kaik­oura to­day,” he said.

Out of water

Around 400 of the 1,200 tourists stranded in the town were flown out on Tues­day, in­clud­ing 12 peo­ple with a va­ri­ety of in­juries, of­fi­cials said.

The Red Cross, which used De­fense Force he­li­copters to bring in emer­gency gen­er­a­tors, satel­lite com­mu­ni­ca­tions and water blad­ders, said water in the town was run­ning out.

Mark Solomon, a leader of South Is­land in­dige­nousMaori Ngai Tahu tribe, which has tourism and fish­eries busi­nesses around Kaik­oura, said the lo­cal marae (Maori meet­ing place) had re­ceived 1,000 peo­ple since Mon­day morn­ing. Many slept overnight in the com­mu­nal hall or in ve­hi­cles out­side.

The tribe had fed them with cray­fish, adel­i­ca­cy­for­whichthe South Is­land town is fa­mous. With no power, the tanks that hold the ex­pen­sive crus­taceans had stopped pump­ing.

“It’s bet­ter to use the food than throw it in the rub­bish so we sent it up to the marae to feed peo­ple,” Solomon said.

Fi­nance Min­is­ter Bill English said the gov­ern­ment was well po­si­tioned to deal with the ex­pected re­pair bill of bil­lions of dol­lars, with low debt and bud­get sur­pluses.

“We are in about as good a shape as we could be to deal with this nat­u­ral dis­as­ter,” English said.

China char­tered four he­li­copters to evac­u­ate around 40 na­tion­als from Kaik­oura, mostly el­derly and chil­dren, late onMon­day, said Liu Lian, an of­fi­cial at the Chi­nese Con­sulate in Christchurch.

“They have been trapped in Kaik­oura for a cou­ple of days, some are maybe scared, they have some men­tal stress,” Liu said. Around 60 Chi­nese tourists would be evac­u­ated on Tues­day, Liu said.

Many other tourists said they planned to con­tinue their trips, and travel agen­cies said they hadn’t no­ticed a drop off in book­ings.

Gale-force winds and rain were ham­per­ing re­cov­ery ef­forts, and hun­dreds of af­ter­shocks con­tin­ued to rock the re­gion. A mag­ni­tude-5.4 tremor was among the big­ger af­ter­shocks and was felt strongly in Welling­ton.

Civil De­fense es­ti­mated about 100,000 land­slides had been caused by the quakes.

had been caused by the quakes, the Civil De­fense es­ti­mated.

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