Af­ter­shocks as tourists evac­u­ated

The Myanmar Times - - World -

RES­CUERS in New Zealand yes­ter­day be­gan air­lift­ing re­lieved tourists stranded by a 7.8 earth­quake that dev­as­tated parts of the South Is­land coast and sparked 100,000 land­slides.

Mil­i­tary he­li­copters started fer­ry­ing the first of 1200 hol­i­day­mak­ers trapped in the sea­side town of Kaik­oura, which bore the brunt of a quake that claimed two lives when it struck early on Novem­ber 14.

Of­fi­cials said the United States and Ja­panese mil­i­taries would also join the re­lief ef­fort.

Huge land­slides cut Kaik­oura’s road and rail links, and po­lice said wa­ter was run­ning low, power was in­ter­mit­tent and hun­dreds of peo­ple were shel­ter­ing in evac­u­a­tion cen­tres.

The town has a pop­u­la­tion of 2000, which Prime Min­is­ter John Key said was bol­stered by the tourists, mostly in­ter­na­tional back­pack­ers at­tracted by the area’s pop­u­lar whale-watch­ing cruises.

Mr Key said get­ting them out safely was top pri­or­ity and four air force he­li­copters had be­gun trans­port­ing them to nearby Christchurch, with nu­mer­ous civil­ian chop­pers also help­ing the air­lift.

Mr Key es­ti­mated the quake re­pair bill would reach bil­lions of dol­lars but said the first job was de­liv­er­ing much needed sup­plies to the town.

The tremor, one of the most pow­er­ful ever in the quake-prone South Pa­cific na­tion, hit just af­ter mid­night with more than 1200 af­ter­shocks com­pli­cat­ing re­lief ef­forts.

Heavy rain and driv­ing winds were ham­per­ing clean-up ef­forts, al­though life out­side the main Kaik­oura dis­as­ter zone was slowly re­turn­ing to nor­mal as roads opened and power was re­stored.

The quake trig­gered nu­mer­ous land­slides that dumped moun­tains of rocky de­bris on a main high­way and ripped rail­way tracks 10 me­tres (30 feet) off course.

Huge fis­sures opened up in roads and some houses were rocked off their foun­da­tions.

Ex­perts said the rel­a­tively low death toll was be­cause the quake was cen­tred on a sparsely pop­u­lated area and hit at night, when peo­ple were in their homes.

It was felt across most of the coun­try, caus­ing se­vere shak­ing in the cap­i­tal Welling­ton, about 250 kilo­me­tres (155 miles) away.

Mr Key ad­mit­ted he was con­cerned that tourism, the coun­try’s big­gest ex­port earner, would take a hit af­ter im­ages of the dam­age flashed around the world.

“Peo­ple worry about earth­quakes,” he said, adding that many world lead­ers had phoned him to of­fer their con­do­lences and as­sis­tance.

But in the chaos that fol­lowed the quake he missed a call from US Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump. –

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Myanmar

© PressReader. All rights reserved.