Christchurch Quake: Day 3

Summary of conditions in Christchurch on day 3 following the magnitude 6.3 earthquake of Tuesday 22nd February 2011.

Thursday 24th February 2011

This is a summary of information pertaining to the situation in Christchurch city as at midday. For those of us outside the earthquake zone it is a sobering summary of the situation we could find ourselves in if such an event happened to us. It may provide food for thought for how our emergency kits and plans should be made. Sources for specific items appear in square brackets.

Christchurch is New Zealand’s second largest city, with a population of about 350,000.

Resources are focussed on rescuing people still trapped in the rubble. Sites where fatalities are known remain a lower priority. [Police District Commander]

Access to the central city is tightly controlled. Media are being escorted to three key sites (Pyne Gould Corporation building, Cathedral Square and Canterbury Television building) by police and military police this afternoon if conditions and aftershock activity permits.

40% of the city is without power. Electricity is off for safety reasons in the Central Business District to prevent the outbreak of fires in damaged buildings and allow search and rescue work to continue.

Water Supply:
80% of the city is without running water. Fonterra is providing a tanker service to transfer water from its Clandeboye dairy factory at Timaru to distribution sites at schools in Christchurch. Yesterday, water was supplied directly from tankers which was slow and cumbersome. Today, vats have been installed at some sites allowing the tankers to discharge quickly and depart. 400,000 litres were supplied today, and the supply will be increased tomorrow.

The supplied water is potable but MUST be boiled for safety to ensure that any contamination from transport vessels is avoided.

Waste Water:
The sewerage network has collapsed. The Christchurch Medical Officer of Health advises that rivers are effectively open sewers as waste flows from the damaged sewerage network.

There is confusion as to whether toilets can be used. The Christchurch Deputy Mayor advises that residents who have running water and no obvious damage to the sewers in their immediate vicinity may have brief showers and flush the toilet sparingly. They should use the guideline: If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down.

Other residents should not be using toilets and should have improvised their own. Communal toilet facilities (known as Portaloos) are being considered by the Council.

Food supplies:
Many supermarkets are open and essential foodstuffs are in good supply provided residents keep requirements to a minimum. Rationing is being applied at some outlets to ensure that staples are widely available and access at the doors is, in some cases, being controlled.

Fuel supply:
Fuel is available and being tankered to Timaru for local distribution. Some service stations are out of service pending inspection of tanks or supply of electricity.

75 [John Key], 71 [MCDEM]
The names of some of the deceased will be released later today [John Key]

300 [John Key]. For inquiries about missing persons call the Red Cross, 0800 733 276

Hospital services – 164 hospital admissions as a result of the earthquake, mostly crush injuries and broken bones. 80 patients from 2 facilities have been moved out of the region, 200 more (probably from aged care facilities) will be moved owing to the lack of running water. An increase of cardiac, respiratory and orthopaedic patients is expected in the coming days. Resources are being brought in from other DHB’s where required.
GP – 30% of General Practices were open yesterday, 60% open today. Access to GP’s is free, and there are no prescription fees, until Sunday. [Canterbury DHB CEO]

Mobile and landline networks operating, using generators where necessary. Congested. Contact via text messaging is preferred.

State Highways open, SH74 partially closed. 18 bridges and 25 distributor roads impassable due to damage or flooding. [MCDEM]
Lyttelton Tunnel closed to the public due to danger of unstable slope above tunnel entrance. In use by emergency vehicles. Diversion available via Dyer’s Pass Road.
Clearance of silt ejected onto roads from liquefied ground has commenced today.

Open to domestic and international traffic on revised schedules. [MCDEM]
Air New Zealand is offering $50 fares to and from Christchurch until Sunday.
RNZAF operating an “air bridge” to Wellington to evacuate domestic and foreign tourists. 1,000 people moved out so far. Intending travellers must report to either Burnside High School or North Hagley Park welfare centres, NOT the airport.

Closed due to damage. Limited operation anticipated Monday or Tuesday.

Aftershock activity:
21 aftershocks of magnitude 3 or greater between midnight and midday.
Mag. 4 (3) Mag. 3 (18)

Access to central Christchurch CBD is controlled at all times. The zone bordered by the four avenues (Deans, Moorhouse, Fitzgerald and Bealey) is closed to the public from 6:30 p.m. Residents within the police cordon may remain but non-residents and media risk arrest during curfew hours. [MCDEM]

Health Warning:
The risk of waterborne disease has increased.
Christchurch rivers are effectively open sewers due to the collapse of the sewerage network. Avoid surface water which could be contaminated. Cover feet to avoid cuts which could become infected. BOIL drinking water. Use alcohol-based hand sanitiser if water and soap are not available. [Christchurch Medical Officer of Health]

On a lighter note:
One suburban supermarket reports a steady trade in the usual commodities as well as buckets and cheap toilet seats. Residents showing initiative are taking the opportunity to make their improvised toilets a little more comfortable.

Accumulated History:
Day 1: Magnitude 6.3 earthquake struck at 12:51 p.m. Centred 10 km south-east of Christchurch, within 5 km of Lyttelton and Diamond Harbour at a depth of 5 km. Building collapses, major disruption to electricity, water and sewerage systems. Citizen rescues in immediate aftermath, three sites attended by Urban Search and Rescue.

Day 2: Aftershock magnitudes ease during afternoon. National Emergency declared. USAR active at five sites, people freed from rubble. Hotel Grand Chancellor tower block found to be unstable creating “no go” zone nearby. Fires under control.

[ Compiled from MCDEM bulletins, GeoNet data, industry websites, Council media releases, media reports. ]

One Response to “Christchurch Quake: Day 3”

  1. Lizzie from Gizzie says:

    Thanks Ken, makes it all easier to follow.

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