Deadly Quake: Two Dead, Hundreds Of Aftershocks, Tsunami Threat Lifted

Publish Date
Monday, 14 November 2016, 4:56AM

• 7.5 quake strikes at 12.02am not far from Hanmer Springs in North Canterbury in the South Island - country still being hit, with more than 100 aftershocks so far

• At least two people have been killed amid reports of many other casualties - one victim suffered a heart attack, another was killed in a historic homestead in Canterbury

• Kaikoura and other towns have been essentially cut off, with the famous SH1 road and rail tunnels blocked by slips

• Wellington is also badly hit, with damage to buildings and roads - people are being told to avoid the Capital CBD

• Tsunami warnings for entire east coast of New Zealand have been lifted but people living on the coast are being warned to stay away from beaches and shoreline

• Civil Defence warns people not to sightsee

• Schools from North Canterbury to Wellington told to remain shut until damage can be assessed

• Students sitting NCEA exams face disruption, delays - scholarship exams called off today

• Fire Service sending 7-strong urban search and rescue squad from Christchurch to Kaikoura

• Prime Minister John Key arrives at Civil Defence bunker under Beehive, says military helicopters being made available

• Key says communications have been difficult and full assessment of damage, casualties still being conducted

• St John receiving reports of injuries around Culverden and Kaikoura - paramedics being sent in by helicopter

• Power is out in many areas

• NZTA says roads some main highways are closed

UPDATED: 8.42AM At least two people have died and several others have suffered non-fatal heart attacks and minor injuries following the 7.5 magnitude earthquake.

Emergency services have confirmed one death at the Elms Homestead in Kaikoura. Three people live at the historic home. One person was able to escape, one was rescued and third has died. Relatives of the family are having trouble contacting emergency services due to congested phone lines and power cuts.

A second person has died of a heart attack at a property in Mt Lyford and there are reports of several people suffering non-fatal heart attacks in the hours following the main quake.

St John has activated its National Crisis Coordination Centre and has set up local Emergency Operation Centres in the South Island.

A spokeswoman said St John staff, resources and emergency equipment have been relocated to higher ground, and resource is being moved to affected areas in order to maintain response capability. Casualty numbers and injury numbers are unknown at this stage. 

The tsunami warnings for New Zealand's east coast have been lifted, but people are being warned to stay away from beaches and shores.

Speaking from the Beehive's civil defence bunker, Prime Minister John Key said all 16 regions had activated civil defence requirements.

Key said it was important for people to keep following safety advice.

He said New Zealand was in "great shape" to meet any costs from the quakes, but expected there would be significant repairs needed. He also confirm the two deaths.

Acting Civil Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee said the pressing need was to get communications gear in to cut off areas and that would be the first task for the helicopters.

He said there weren't reports of many homes or other buildings brought down.

 

While there had been reports of items falling from shelves, some cracks in buildings and smashed windows in Wellington the true extent of property damage is being revealed as emergency service workers begin assess infrastructure and homes in the light of day.

Pictures are coming in of large slips and badly damaged roads in the Hurunui District. The small North Canterbury town Waiau, where a bridge has been badly damaged, is shut off.

Kaikoura has also been cut off but reports of bad damage are hard to substantiate due to power cuts, blocked roads and a congested mobile network. Military helicopters would be going there to assess damage and make contact.

The Fire Service is also sending a seven-strong Urban Search And Rescue squad from Christchurch by helicopter.

Assessment teams are also being sent to Waiau and Blenheim.

 

In Wellington the TSB Arena and BNZ Centre have sustained the most damage. There is damage to wharves and the Inter Islander terminal, and the Tory Channel remained closed.

Shipping workers were forced to flee the Kings Wharf freight shipping terminal in Wellington, after cracks began appearing and water spurting from beneath them.

"It was just panic stations," said the man who did not wish to be named.

"Water was coming up from the wharf, we had about five seconds to evacuate."

The man said he and seven of his colleagues all ran out together, and huddled to protect themselves in case glass or debris fell from nearby buildings.

In Marlborough, emergency services are bracing themselves for an influx of calls as people see the extend of the damage.

Rural fire chief Richard McNamara said there was a number of vehicles stuck on State Highway 1, and a helicopter was waiting to survey the road in daylight.

"There will be a few people spending the night in their cars, I would say."

He urged people not to travel unless it was urgent, because there was already congestion.

"There has been significant tidal movement in Picton and the [Marlborough] Sounds."

McNamara said welfare centres in Rarangi and Waikawa were sheltering about 100 people, including residents of a rest home.

Buildings have reportedly fallen in Bleheim.

"Fire crews are roving the towns and CBD of Blenheim since the earthquake assisting where they need to and will continue that throughout he day."

Gerry Brownlee: Engineers checking for damage, stay away from CBD

The small North Canterbury township of Waiau is feared to be worst hit following the 7.5 magnitude earthquake in the early hours of this morning.

Power is out and phone lines are down but the potted information coming into Cheviot police and fire is that it has received widespread damage.

Entry to the town has been closed after the violent shaking ripped open the roads.

The Waiau river bridge has been badly damaged, with reports it has sunk as much as 400mm.

Residents have had to walk across one of the township's bridge to reach help.

A woman said a friend had posted on Facebook rural residents had gone over the damage structure in the dark to make it to the evacuation centre.

"They managed to drive to the Waiau bridge but they had to walk over the Waiau bridge because it's not in a very good way. Most of the residents are at the school."

A community refuge area has been set up at the local tennis courts.

Hurunui District deputy mayor Marie Black said there was reports of damage throughout the region.

She was woken by the quake, and said it was "very unnerving".

"We live about halfway between Hanmer Springs and Christchurch and it was a significant shake, I have felt several aftershocks and it is very unnerving."

There had been reports from local residents that buildings were damaged and water tanks had been shaken loose, she said.

Journalist Steve Braunias was in Wellington when he felt the quake.

"It began very slowly...the bed seemed to be twitching and it very quickly built."

He was on the seventh floor of the Comfort Hotel on Cuba St.

"It was terrifying. I thought I was going to die. It was swaying side to side."

He took cover under a piece of furniture.

The swaying seemed to last for 70 to 80 seconds, he said.

"It just sort of died down and I went to the window to see if the city was in ruins, but it was actually reassuring - I could see all these people turning lights on."

Outside the hotel, other guests and residents had left buildings and were planning to leave Wellington.

There have been "heaps" of aftershocks, he said.

"There is a lot of very frightened people."

In Wellington's city centre glass has fallen from buildings, items have smashed to the ground in homes and businesses.

Large numbers of people are evacuating from the city.

In Cheviot local fire chief Grant Burnett said some chimneys and water tanks have come down.

Cheviot councillor Vince Daly said daylight will reveal the true extent of the damage.

He had not received any reports of major damage, except for fallen water tanks.

He feared the shaking could have damaged the area's water pipes.

People have reported feeling the quakes as far north as Auckland.

via Newstalk ZB