QUAKE Day 1: Many feared dead
NewsWire’s team of reporters monitored media coverage of today’s earthquake aftermath, as well as writing stories of their own:
7:34pm: Ferries are preparing to handle emergency service vehicles and air travellers grounded by the latest Christchurch earthquake, report NewsWire’s Gareth Wallace and Siena Yates.
7.15pm: NZ Herald reports that Christchurch Hospital is bracing for a sudden increase in new babies as women go into premature labour as a result of today’s massive earthquake. The number of babies born spiked following the 7.1 magnitude quake last September 4 and a repeat is looking likely today.
7.06pm: Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker says the death toll could double from the 65 confirmed. He warns residents should prepare for no power tonight. Emergency centres have been set up and he is urging people to go to relief centres at Burnside High and Addington Racecourse
7:05pm: Today’s quake has dominated international news, reports NewsWire’s Hanna Butler
7.04pm: Deputy Prime Minister Bill English said offers of help had come in from other countries, mentioning the United States and Japan. The European Union said in a statement issued in Wellington that it was following the tragedy with great concern. “The New Zealand authorities have been informed that the European Union civil protection mechanism is available in case of need, as it was when the first earthquake struck the region in September,” the EU said.
6:55pm: Domestic flights out of Christchurch Airport are expected to be back up and running by 8am tomorrow. Christchurch Airport chief executive Jim Boult says there has been no damage to the runways, control tower or underground fuel system, but he says there is a lot of superficial damage to the terminal buildings.
6.47pm: GNS Science has reported there has been two further aftershocks since 6pm. A magnitude 4.3 aftershock struck at 6.03pm 10km south-east of Christchurch at a depth of 5km. A 3.9 magnitude aftershock struck at 6.17pm in a similar location at 15km deep.
6:44pm: Emergency vehicles are now able to use Lyttelton Tunnel. It is still closed to other traffic until an assessment tomorrow.
6.43pm: TVNZ: Bob Parker said people are in the collapsed Christchurch Cathedral. He said the city needs more people with urban search and rescue skills, but in terms of medical facilities they are in good nick. “What the picture will be in the morning, God only knows,” he said. “Our focus is on rescue at the moment. Our focus is on getting people out of the rubble.”
6.39pm: TVNZ has reporting John Key saying there are 180 police on the ground and a further 200 on the way. Some 350 military personnel were already in Christchurch and another 250 will arrive soon.
6:34pm: Wellington airport wants to hear from anyone in the capital who has a spare bed. If you do please email email@example.com and provide your name, contact phone number, type of accommodation (ie: number of beds), and whether you can pick people up from the airport.
6.32pm: TVNZ reports Bob Parker has said the facility at Hagley Park is no longer available. Two additional facilities have been set up at Burnside High School and the Addington Raceway.
6:28pm: NewsWire’s Hanna Butler is analysing how social media sites are being used to get messages to loved ones.
6.27pm: TVNZ has reported that it is likely people may be spending the night trapped in buildings. At least 200 people are believed to still be trapped.
“This is a community that is absolutely in agony. We just need this community, as its done before and as it will do again, to come together, to check and support one another.”
6:19: Prime Minister John Key confirms 65 people are dead.
6.15pm: There have been 13 aftershocks in Christchurch since today’s 6.3 magnitude quake just before 1pm. Geonet reports the shakes range from 5.7 to 3.4 magnitude. The last was magnitude 4 and shook Christchurch just before 6pm.
6.12pm: Stuff.co.nz reports about 500 people will be spending the night in Hagley Park. However, currently there is a shortage of water, no food, and few blankets. They will be in for a long night.
6:10pm: Environment Canterbury have launched a blog site. Their latest update at 6.10pm was a message asking residents to put plans into place over the coming evening.
6:04pm: Civil defence minister John Hamilton has confirmed 17 deaths so far.
6.04pm: A flood of patients is expected to arrive at Christchurch Hospital with injuries from today’s 6.3 magnitude aftershock. More than 40 people had arrived at the hospital with quake injuries as at 2:15pm, with Civil Defence expecting that number to rise significantly. Wellington Hospital is on stand-by to receive patients, a Civil Defence statement says.
6:03pm: Mayor Bob Parker has said the death toll could be between 50 and 60.
6.01pm: TV3 reports that the Fire Service confirms fatalities are at least “dozens”.
5:57pm: TV3 reports there has been one confirmed death.
5:56pm: Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker reminds residents to boil water, keep roads clear and to avoid flushing toilets.
5.55pm: Jetstar says it has resumed some of its domestic NZ services between Christchurch and Wellington.
5:49pm: Power is yet to be restored to large parts of Christchurch. Orion chief executive Roger Sutton says 70% to 80% of power was cut to the city as a result of the earthquake.
5.48pm: Mt Hutt sales and marketing co-ordinator, James Urquhart said by phone to Cathy Romeyn that he can confirm that staff and buildings at the ski resort are safe despite feeling the quake. Fresh snow and high winds created a “recipe for avalanches” at Mt Hutt Ski-field during last year’s quake.
5.40pm: NZ Herald reports Labour leader Phil Goff, who was at Christchurch Airport when the quake struck, says it was immediately clear “it was a big one”.He says the city centre was “like a war zone” when he returned to it. “There’s damage to buildings that weren’t damaged last time so our thoughts are with the people in Christchurch.”
Mr Goff says he intends to stay in Christchurch and to go down to the command headquarters to see what reports he can get, “and what help we can give. This is a time for all of New Zealand to get behind Christchurch.”
5.35pm: The Star Canterbury has reported that the New Zealand Blood Service does not need extra donations of blood following the earthquake.
Contrary to some media reports, it says it has “sufficient stocks of blood at this time”.
5.34pm: TV3 staff on the ground in Christchurch have reported that it sounds “like a war zone” with helicopters, sirens, and emergency staff everywhere.
5.33pm: Out-of-town doctors that were at a conference in CBD and have volunteered for the triage centres.
5.31 pm: Stuff reports Armitage has been found and “has been picked up and is en route to muster/shelter site.”
5:31pm: John Key has arrived at the Civil Defence headquarters in Christchurch.
5.27pm: Deputy Prime Minister Bill English has confirmed defence force staff have been deployed in and extra ambulances are en route.
5.24 pm: A top US diplomat visiting Christchurch may be missing. The US Ambassador to New Zealand, David Huebner, has appealed for all American Embassy stuff to gather at the Antarctic Centre near Christchurch Airport, but has had “difficulty locating former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage.”
5.20pm: Telecom enabled all its Christchurch telephone boxes for free calling.
5:19pm: Another aftershock hits, 5km from Lyttelton and 15km deep, magnitude 4.6.
5.18 pm: BP has closed all of its Christchurch service stations, subject to inspection of ground-based tanks and pipes. Shell said earlier this afternoon that it would close its Christchurch stations.
5:15pm: Police Southern Communications Centre in Christchurch is running again.
5.14pm: NZ Herald has reported that Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard says an Australian search and rescue team is “literally on its way”.
5:10pm: NewsWire’s Greg Ford reports civil defence has issued an update on the quake.
Australian Attorney-General Robert McClelland says the search and rescue team comes from New South Wales and is aboard a defence plane on its way to Christchurch.
5:04pm: NewstalkZB reports 15 emergency vehicles are on their way to Whenuapai Air Base to fly to Christchurch, and motorists heading that way are asked to free up the fast and middle lanes.
5:02pm: Students and staff at the University of Canterbury are being marshalled onto the Ilam Field and arts carpark. The University Health Centre is open, with two doctors present.
5.01pm – NewsWire’s Courtnay Fafeita confirmed with Air Traffic Control NZ that airways were closed earlier this afternoon. All have now been deemed safe. Christchurch airports will open as soon as they are declared safe as well.
5:03pm: Radio NZ reports that Wellington Hospital and hospitals throughout the South Island are discharging patients and cancelling non-urgent surgery to free up beds for patients injured in the Christchurch earthquake.
5.00pm: NZ Herald reports that Tower has set up an emergency response team to handle insurance claims following the latest earthquake. The number to call is 0800-808-808.
4.58pm: Four people have been stretchered out of Canterbury TV building, which is now on fire. Workers are using cranes to bring down walls to get people out, TV One is reporting. This building is just across the road from one of the triage centres. Reports indicate there are definitely fatalities from this situation. A security guard entered after the quake and rescued someone with serious leg injuries, but said he was unable to revive them.
4.54pm: A second emergency Cabinet meeting will take place at 7pm and there will be an update after that. Bill English says the Cabinet meeting will include an update on the situation and a focus on the welfare of people who can’t get to their homes as well as maintaining search and rescue effort through the night.
4.51 pm: John Carter says it wouldn’t be “prudent or proper for us to speculate at this stage” on numbers of fatalities. He says reports of damage were focused on Christchurch city rather than outlying areas at this stage. Bill English confirms the government will be discussing offers of international assistance this evening. That includes offers from the United States and expertise from Japan.
4:48pm: Ninth aftershock reported
4.37pm: TV3 reports that Lyttleton, the epicentre of the quake is no longer liveable.
4:35pm: NewsWire’s Courtnay Fafeita reports that a weather forecaster predicted today’s quake.
4:28pm: Confirmation of acceptance of aid from Australia and the extended international community to help with rescue efforts.
4.28pm: TV3 reports that ambulances from around the South Island are on the way to Christchurch.
4.27pm: NZ Herald reports that Christchurch Cathedral Dean Peter Beck says while church staff had tried to get everybody out as the earthquake struck there are likely to be people still trapped. He says he has no idea how many and the severe damage to the Canterbury icon including the collapsed steeple was nothing compared to the loss of life in other parts of the city. “The people are the most important priority. I’ll be encouraging the clergy to be out there reaching out to people.”
4.23pm: Reports of helicopters being used to put out fires in the central city due to impassable roads.
4.20pm: Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker states his grave concerns for the safety of people in Banks Peninsula area following quake. “We still have yet to hear any reports in from Banks Peninsula and I’m very very concerned about that,” he has told Radio New Zealand. The centre of the earthquake was in Lyttelton Harbour. There are hills covered in rocks, those rocks would have come down.”
4.18pm: People trapped in buildings in the CBD have been holding ‘HELP’ signs up in the window.
4.15: TV3’s live footage is showing people being ‘piggybacked’ out of buildings in the city. People trapped inside buildings can be heard but not seen. They are warning viewers it is live and raw footage and may contain disturbing images
4.12pm: TV3 reports that an air ambulance from Christchurch has arrived in Auckland
4.05pm: A spokesperson at the SPCA Wellington has confirmed with NewsWire’s Cathy Romeyn that staff and animals at the SPCA in Christchurch are safe.
All classes are cancelled for the remainder of the week. Advice about resumption of classes will be confirmed at least 48 hours before they recommence.
4.00pm: Julia Gillard offers her condolences to NZ earthquake victims.
3.56pm: Prime Minister John Key is en route to Christchurch.
3.55pm: All Shell service stations have been closed down.
3:56pm: Australian business traveller reports passengers were asked to remain on board an Air NZ flight after it touched down during the magnitude 6.3 Christchurch earthquake. Initially confused by views of rippling windows in surveillance towers and shuttles moving by themselves, those aboard the aircraft quickly realised the reality of the emergency. Some called family only to find their homes had been destroyed minutes before their arrival- others are simply wondering how they can find a rental car in the chaos.
3.54pm: NZ Blood ask for donations to help Christchurch on twitter.
3:54pm: Red Cross is taking donations online at www.redcross.org.nz/donate
3.53pm: A Contact Energy spokesman has said that there has been reports of gas leaks. Gas has been shut off to all of Christchurch.
3.51pm: TV3 reports that only one ward of Christchurch hospital was damaged.
3.51pm: “We all checked where everyone was and all reached out to hold hands” said Jeff McLay via TV3 news.
3.49 pm: Stuff reports bodies have been seen being taken out of the damaged YHA hostel in the city.
3.43pm: TV3 reports that five people are in The Press building in Cathedral Square trapped under the desks. They have been in contact with rescuers.
3.43 pm: Christchurch St Johns has had to divert all calls to Auckland as their computers have crashed.
3.43pm: People have been asked to go door to door to see if neighbours are ok.
3.42pm: TV3 reports that Bodies have been pulled out of the youth hostel.
3.42pm: Mark Binns, chief executive of Fletcher Construction, was in Wellington today when the quake struck. Mr Binns was in a meeting with Ian Simpson, chief executive of the Earthquake Commission, and watched the news on television. “We are looking at our resources elsewhere to see how many people we can mobilise for emergency work if needed,” he said.
3.44 pm: Paramedics are being flown in to Christchurch rather than driven because the roads are so bad.
3.42pm: The British High Commissioner to New Zealand, Mrs Vicki Treadwell, said the British Government was ready to help.
3.41pm: Contact Energy says it will shut off its gas supply after reports of gas leaks. It says consumers should turn off all gas appliances and the gas mains is they can find them.
3:40pm: Christchurch hospital is no longer evacuated.
3:40pm: Another aftershock occurs. NewsWire is ringing Geonet to get more details.
3:40pm: Civil Defence is asking people to stay OFF their cellphones to allow calls from trapped people to get emergency calls through. Telecom and Vodafone ask ALL OF NZ to free up mobile phone services by not calling Christchurch, to text instead of calling, to allow emergency services to do their job.
3:37pm: A cordon has been placed around central Christchurch and mayor Bob Parker says everyone needs to evacuate the CBD.
3.34pm: The Star Canterbury reports that A magnitude 5.5 aftershock has been recorded within five kilometres of Lyttelton – the town at the epicentre of a huge earthquake that hit Canterbury today.
3:34pm: The Lyttelton Tunnel is closed and the New Zealand Transport Agency is reporting major damage to local roads in Christchurch, as well as liquefaction and surface flooding. The agency reports that the Rakaia Bridge on State Highway One, south of Christchurch and the Waimakariri Bridge on State Highway One north of Christchurch are both open. The NZTA advises motorists only travel if essential and use extreme caution when driving.
3:33pm: The walking wounded are asked to make their way to medical clinics, to free up Christchurch Hospital.
3:33pm: There have been reports of looting in central Christchurch.
3.31 pm: An air ambulance has landed in Auckland from Christchurch. The Minister of Civil Defence John Carter says hospitals around the South Island have been cleared to take injured.
3.29pm: TV3 reports that all South Island hospitals have been cleared of patients to make room for quake victims.
3:27pm: Jetstar has suspended its flights in and out of Christchurch, Queenstown and Wellington and Auckland. A spokesperson says passenger safety is Jetstar’s main priority and staff are working with airport authorities regarding the status of flights. The flights have been suspended until further notice.
3.25pm: South Island hospitals are clearing out patients so they can take those injured from the quake.
3:22pm: NewstalkZB reports Mayor Bob Parker has just spoken to Danny Watson. He has declared a state of emergency. He confirmed buses have been trapped by debris from falling buildings. The main message he has is for residents to stay calm. They are trying to contact people in far-reaching parts of Canterbury.
3:24pm: ABC has released a video about the quake.
3.23pm: TV3 reports that an air ambulance has arrived in Auckland airport
3:19pm: More than 540 people have joined Facebook support group ‘Supporting Christchurch Earthquake 22-02-2011’.
3.18pm: The police southern communications centre is still not operating.
3.17pm: Auckland hospital is on code red for quake victims.
3:12pm: NZ Herald reports that Orion Power says 80% of Christchurch has lost power. Power transformers are damaged as the quake’s effect if far worse than the quake of September last year.
3:11pm: NewstalkZB has reported that a triage centre has been set up at the Sanitarium factory in Papanui. Manufacturing manager Geoff Davies says there are three ambulances there waiting to treat anyone who is injured.
3:10pm TV3 reports the Pike Gould Guiness building has collapsed. There are reports of 200 people trapped inside.
3:09pm: NewstalkZB reports the 111 phone system in Southland is out of action. Civil Defence says anyone needing urgent assistance from the police must phone their local station direct.
3.07pm: Samantha Hayes has updated her Twitter account saying 4 x 4s are being used to take injured for treatment.
3.05pm: Courtnay Fafeita got through to Helen Cruise, Communications Air Traffic Control NZ. She said she will confirm closing of airways soon.
3.05pm: NewsWire’s Kris Smylie spoke to Mike Mendonca, the Wellington City Council Civil Defence Controller. “We are following protocol as we did last time,” he says “We don’t want to add to the chaos, so it’ll probably be a couple of days before we start sending volunteers.”
3.03pm: NewsWire’s Antony McArtney spoke to Jack McDonald, Green party member, who said: “The government has announced they will do anything they can and suspended parliament as a sign of respect.”
3:00pm:RyanSproull from scoop.co.nz is advertising a missing people website on twitter.
“If you can help monitor #eqnzContact and update the wiki with missing people, please do.2:58pm: TV3’s Rachel Smalley is heading to Christchurch. She has tweeted: “On my way to ChCh. Spoke to Mum, she’s very upset and very scared but finding it calming watching Hilary. So hope I can see my Mum tonight.”
2.55pm: Three cars and three trailers from Wellington Civil Defence have been booked onto the next sailing of the Interislander to Picton..
2.53pm: Twitter user says TV3 news reporting Christchurch has run out of amubulances and police are using their cars instead.
2:51pm: A level three emergency has been declared by Civil Defence, the biggest possible for a regional disaster.
2.45pm: Social media users continue to turn to Twitter to try and locate friends and family who have not been heard from since the quake. Jason Lerke updated his Twitter account saying : Has anyone seen/heard from @nzdesignagirl? She works in the CBD end of High Street. Have texted but no response yet.
2:29pm: Another aftershock strikes, centred at 10km north-east of Lyttelton . Magnitude 4.0 at a depth of of 8km.
2:38: All NZ airspace has been shut down. Twitter post by Australian Business Traveller. NewsWire has been unable to make contact with air traffic control to confirm this.
2.33pm: NZ Herald reports Roger Sutton, CEO of power company Orion New Zealand, estimates that electricity is down across 80% of Christchurch, although there are pockets of Hornby and Riccaton that still have power.
2.33pm: Lauren Ottaway was home alone when the quake struck. “All I could hear was that rumbling noise, and vases smashing. Our brick fence has completely collapsed and I can’t contact my parents. This is so scary, I never want this to happen again.”
2.26pm: NZ Herald reports a line has been set up for Australians to call to get information about the quake.
2.16pm: Police have called in the Defence Force for assistance.
2.11pm: 2Degrees leaves a message on NZ Herald.co.nz: “Our thoughts are with everyone in Christchurch right now. Our network remains operational for calls with the exception of three cell sites – all of our staff are ok. Some texts may be delayed, and please keep non-essential calls to the affected area to a minimum.”
1.53pm: Fletcher Construction has evacuated the building they share with the Earthquake Commission in Christchurch. The EQC office at Deans Ave, situated 2km distance from Cathedral Square, was evacuated immediately following the 6.3 quake at 12.51pm said Malcolm Hope, Project Manager for Fletcher Construction.
1.25pm: Whitireia student Jonni Pannekoek was on campus when he hears the news. “It’s quite frightening. It feels really strange, I’m, sending 1000s of texts and not getting anything back,” he says. “It’s pretty unnerving. I can’t get hold of my friends or my mother.”
12.57pm: Christchurch resident Jane Smith, who works in the central city, told NZ Herald: “There’s people dead. (A work colleague) was pulling them out of a bus. Colombo St is completely munted.”
Triage centres have been established for the injured at Latimer Square in the central city, Spotlight Mall in Sydenham and Sanitarium in Papanui.
Police said there were reports of fires in buildings in the central city and of people being trapped.
12.51pm: A 6.3 magnitude quake strikes Christchurch. GeoNet reports it was 5km deep.