Christchurch in Rescue Phase

Six rescue sites in operation. Major damage to electricity, water and sewerage plant.

Tuesday 22nd February 2011

In a media conference held at 9 o’clock this evening Christchurch Mayor, Bob Parker, advised that the city has experienced a disaster of major proportions, and was still in rescue phase.

Half a dozen rescue sites are currently in operation, looking for trapped people. Urban Search and Rescue personnel will soon be bolstered by crews from the North Island and Australia.

Major damage to the water distribution network has necessitated closing off the city’s water reservoirs. Water supply is off in all areas except north-west Christchurch. Fresh water supplies are being arranged, but residents who are able to draw water from the network should boil it before use.

The sewerage system has collapsed due to earthquake damage, with all but five pumping stations destroyed by today’s magnitude six aftershock. Sewage is being discharged into streams and rivers creating a health hazard. Parker advised city residents to rig temporary toilet facuilities to reduce further pollution via the sewerage network.

A cordon has been thrown around the centre of the city closing off the area contained by the four avenues. Residents within the cordon may remain. The central city may be shut for some time.

Bob Parker asked frightened residents to support each other at this difficult time. With the official death toll at 65 and many people unable to contact loved ones, he wanted to avoid raising false fears and false hopes.

A welfare enquiries number has been established for reporting missing persons following the Christchurch earthquake.

It is 0800 779 997

In latest news, Orion Energy reports that damage to electricity infrastructure is more serious than it was following the magnitude seven September earthquake. Serious movement of heavy plant has occurred and initial surveys have found some sub-station equipment buried in mud, presumably due to liquefaction.

Steady rain has begun falling in the lead-up to ten o’clock, adding urgency to the work around rescue sites.

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