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Chch quake upgraded now equal to February

Monday 13 Jun 2011 10:21 p.m.

By 3news.co.nz staff

GeoNet has upgraded the magnitude of both of Christchurch's earthquakes, to 5.6 and 6.3 on the richter scale. This makes the larger shake an equal magnitude to February's earthquake.

"As new data has come in and we've been able to analyse it, we've upgraded the magnitude which is pretty common," says a GNS Science spokesperson.

"It has been upgraded to a 6.3 on the richter scale, but remains a 6.0 on the moment magnitude scale which is more reliable for large quakes."

GNS has also confirmed both quakes were aftershocks stemming from September's 7.1 magnitude shake and not new events.

Power and water

Five percent of Christchurch homes and businesses are still without power following yesterday’s quakes.

Twenty-five percent of Christchurch homes and businesses are still without water.

Ninety percent of residents on the flat have water back on, but hill suburbs have low water pressure.

But Orion expects to restore power to most of Mt Pleasant and Redcliffs by tonight.

Meanwhile, Christchurch City Council says it could take days to restore water supplies to residents east of Ferrymead Bridge.

Additional water tankers are being made available across the city from about now.

All water across the city needs to be boiled before use.

Student Army regroups

The Student Volunteer army is preparing to launch itself into the disaster again.

Hundreds took part after February's quake - shifting thousands of tonnes of silt.

Organiser Sam Johnson says the one problem though is university exams which are due to start next week.

Mr Johnson says planning is underway to get the army on the streets as soon as possible.

The magnitude 5.6 quake rattled the Canterbury region in the early afternoon and was followed by a larger magnitude 6.3 shake shortly afterward, causing damage to buildings and briefly trapping two people.

More damage to buildings

It is expected around 50 buildings will need to be added to the list of those to be condemned and torn down.

GeoNet says both of yesterday's earthquakes displayed similar reverse fault thrust mechanisms to the February quake.

On a reverse thrust fault, the hanging wall, earth above the fault, moves upward while the footwall, the earth beneath the fault, moves downward - the opposite of traditional fault lines.

One suspected death

There are no reports of serious injuries being sustained despite initial reports of several Cantabrians trapped in buildings. Fairfax Media is reporting an elderly man died as a result of yesterday's tremors.

Around a dozen people have been taken to hospitals with non-threatening injuries as a direct result of the quakes, among them two workers who were salvaging windows from St Johns Church when the only remaining wall fell, leaving the workers with minor bruises and abrasions.

The two major shakes caused the majority of the damage, and were the biggest shakes to hit the city since the February earthquake. Minor aftershocks followed throughout the afternoon, and a magnitude 4.7 aftershock struck just before 3am this morning.

St John Ambulance says it attended 55 callouts overnight, treating three people for hypothermia as temperatures in the city dropped below freezing and many residents were left without power. St John is bringing in extra staff to assist in the region.

Quakes won’t delay rebuild – EQC

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee says the latest shakes will not delay the rebuild effort and may help authorities make stronger decisions about areas which were of some concern following February's quake, but were difficult to ascertain their status.

"When I first came out saying that we needed to move swiftly, I got rounded on by all sorts of people and many of those people are now saying it's not going fast enough," he says.

Mr Brownlee told Firstline the focus today will be on the city's Eastern suburbs.

The Dean of the ChristChurch Cathedral, Reverend Peter Beck, says the church's west wall has suffered significant damage and the church as a whole is "in a pretty precarious state".

Orion Energy says power has been restored to most residents this morning, and almost all Christchurch residents in the flat have had water restored, but pressure remains low for those on the hills. Water tankers are presently in two locations in Sumner, and seven more will begin operating today. Residents east of Ferrymead are without water, and it is expected this will continue for several days.

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker urged people to restrict their water use and look after their neighbours in the “traumatic” aftermath of the quakes.

Mayor Parker also told those without essential services to assume they would be without them overnight. He says the city has "taken another step backwards" as a result of yesterday's major aftershocks in the city. Continuing aftershocks last night caused "a rough night for everybody", he told Firstline this morning.

Schools closed

All schools in Christchurch will be closed today while buildings are inspected for damage, and the city’s libraries will also be closed as a precaution.

Heberden Avenue in Sumner has been evacuated after rockfalls prompted safety concerns.

The Grand Chancellor has slumped further, with the Holiday Inn opposite now also reported to be on a lean. Many buildings which suffered structural damage in earlier quakes, including Lyttelton’s historic Timeball Station, have now collapsed.

Christchurch Airport was initially evacuated, but has since been inspected and reopened. A police spokesperson said yesterday that flights were running as normal.

Many roads have been closed due to liquefaction, and CERA's Roger Sutton says the CBD and red zone, which was initially evacuated due to a suspected gas leak, is likely to remain closed for at least 24 hours.

Federated Farmers has announced a $285,000 donation to nine Christchurch charities, including $40,000 to both the Red Cross Christchurch quake appeal fund and the Salvation Army Canterbury Earthquake Appeal.

Eyewitnesses said yesterday’s aftershocks were almost as bad as the February 22 quake, with one woman describing the 5.5 magnitude shock as “scary… but not as bad, not as long”.

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