‘EARTH­QUAKE!’

Central Otago Mirror - - FRONT PAGE - By CHE BAKER

At 9.26 this morn­ing a dev­as­tat­ing earth­quake struck New Zealand, trap­ping Cen­tral Otago res­i­dents in the re­gion. All roads in and out of the area have been blocked and emer­gency re­lief and sup­plies are not expected to arrive for an­other seven days. Panic buy­ing has set in and po­lice have shut down petrol sta­tions and closed su­per­mar­kets. Only a hand­ful of the se­ri­ously injured can be air­lifted for med­i­cal treat­ment. Risks in­clude se­vere rock­fall, tsunamis and open­ing of cracks. Tsunamis are pos­si­ble on Lake Dun­stan and Lake Roxburgh, not as a di­rect re­sult of an earth- quake, but when a land­slide or rock­fall en­ters the lake. Peo­ple should avoid the wa­ter and move to higher ground, par­tic­u­larly peo­ple re­sid­ing in Cromwell. To­day more than 1.2 mil­lion peo­ple have taken part in New Zealand’s largest earth­quake drill, Shake­Out. Over 4200 of them were in Cen­tral Otago. Schools and busi­nesses held ex­er­cises and those tak­ing part ducked for cover then evac­u­ated their premises. The most prob­a­ble nat­u­ral dis­as­ters in Cen­tral Otago are an earth­quake, fire or flood. In the

event of a large earth­quake, up to a mag­ni­tude eight on the Richter scale, the Clyde dam, which has been built to high spec­i­fi­ca­tions, is not expected to burst. How­ever, if an earth­quake over mag­ni­tude eight struck and the dam did burst it would be Alexan­dra res­i­dents, not Clyde, who would be ini­tially flooded by the rush­ing wa­ter. The wa­ter would hit the Clock and Bridge hills then surge back to Clyde. Cen­tral Otago Dis­trict Coun- cil emer­gency man­age­ment of­fi­cer Hamish Keith, who helped in Christchurch af­ter both the Septem­ber 2010 and Fe­bru­ary 22 earth­quakes, said in the event the dam burst Alexan­dra res­i­dents should try to get above the his­toric flood line on Sta­tion St. As Cen­tral Otago was con­sid­ered one of the most iso­lated re­gions in New Zealand it has been es­ti­mated in the event of a dev­as­tat­ing earth­quake or other nat­u­ral dis­as­ter it could take a week, or longer, for aid from Civil De­fence to arrive. In most other ar­eas of New Zealand re­lief was expected to take three days to arrive. As the re­gion’s emer­gency man­age­ment of­fi­cer Mr Keith could be con­sid­ered the most pre­pared res­i­dent in the area and he ad­mits it was not of­ten he did not have a full tank of gas. In an emer­gency po­lice have the author­ity to shut down petrol sta­tions, so re­serves can be set aside for emer­gency ser­vices, and su­per­mar­kets, so food sup­plies can be ra­tioned if needed. The Alpine Fault, the fault which causes the great­est con­cern for the area, runs for about 600km up the spine of the South Is­land and is one of the world’s ma­jor ge­o­log­i­cal fea­tures. It has rup­tured four times in the past 900 years, each time pro­duc­ing an earth­quake of about mag­ni­tude eight. There is a high prob­a­bil­ity, es­ti­mated at 30 per cent, of it rup­tur­ing again in the next 50 years. Cen­tral Otago has sev­eral lo­cal fault­lines in­clud­ing the Dun­stan Fault and the Cairn­muir Fault.

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