Re­lieved tourists es­cape quake town

The Myanmar Times - - World -

RESCUERS in New Zealand yes­ter­day com­pleted a mass evac­u­a­tion of tourists stranded af­ter a dev­as­tat­ing earth­quake, as of­fi­cials in the cap­i­tal Wellington sealed off dozens of po­ten­tially dan­ger­ous of­fice blocks.

The last of the trapped hol­i­day­mak­ers boarded the navy ship HMNZS Can­ter­bury late yes­ter­day at Kaik­oura, the South Is­land sea­side town that bore the brunt of the pow­er­ful 7.8 tremor.

Ves­sels from the United States, Canada and Aus­tralia are also steam­ing to­ward the town to pro­vide emer­gency sup­plies and lo­gis­ti­cal sup­port.

At the time of the quake, Kaik­oura’s pop­u­la­tion of 2000 was bol­stered by about 1000 tourists, at­tracted by the re­gion’s renowned whale-watch­ing cruises.

They were stranded when the tremor, which claimed two lives, sev­ered road and rail ac­cess, leav­ing the town short of water and with lit­tle power.

Most of the vis­i­tors were air­lifted out by mil­i­tary he­li­copters, with about 250 set to de­part on HMNZS Can­ter­bury for nearby Christchurch.

The tremor was felt across the coun­try, caus­ing vi­o­lent shak­ing in Wellington about 250 kilo­me­tres (155 miles) away.

The cap­i­tal was ini­tially thought

to have es­caped se­ri­ous dam­age but the lo­cal coun­cil said yes­ter­day that en­gi­neer­ing in­spec­tors had raised concerns about some 60 build­ings in down­town Wellington.

At least one has been rated as be­ing in im­mi­nent dan­ger of col­lapse and will be care­fully de­mol­ished, while an­other was a new gov­ern­ment of­fice block that was sup­posed to be quake-proof.

The tremor, one of the most pow­er­ful ever in the quake-prone South Pa­cific na­tion, has been fol­lowed by more than 1700 af­ter­shocks, com­pli­cat­ing re­lief ef­forts.

The 7.8 quake is the joint sec­ond­strongest ever recorded in New Zealand. It stirred painful mem­o­ries for res­i­dents of Christchurch, which was dev­as­tated five years ago by a 6.3 tremor that killed 185 peo­ple. –

Tourists head to a he­li­copter with their suit­cases as hun­dreds are evac­u­ated from Kaik­oura which bore the brunt of the pow­er­ful 7.8 tremor that shook New Zealand’s South Is­land on Novem­ber 14.

Photo: AFP

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