Water supplies low following earthquake

Photo/Lauren StewartA state of emergency has been declared in Christchurch and the Selwyn district due to the earthquake measuring 7.1 on the Richter scale that shook Canterbury and 4.35am this Saturday.

The earthquake struck about 30km west of Christchurch, centered at a depth of 10-12km, near Darfield. Rescuers are still searching rubble for any residents who may have been trapped inside collapsed buildings, but so far there have only been two seriously injured and, miraculously, nobody killed.

Water supplies, however, are limited, as the quake burst water and sewage pipes. Mayor Bob Parker expects the systems will take a long time to get back in order, compared to power, which is expected to be almost fully restored by this evening after it was cut in many parts of the city. Parker says they may resort to taking water from the Avon River, though plans are underway to bring milk tankers full of water into the city to be rationed amongst the citizens. Burwood Hospital is one of the many homes and services without water. Residents are being advised to conserve water when possible, and not flush toilets. It is also important that they boil any water before drinking it.

Meanwhile, damage to the infrastructure of the city is estimated to be $2 billion worth, though Civil Defence Minister John Carter says it was so significant that it is difficult to assess.

“I think we’ve been extremely lucky as a nation that there’s been no fatalities,” he told NZPA after top public servants, ministers and specialists met in the wake of the quake. “We’re blessed, actually.”

Earthquake Commission and insurance specialists have been sent to Christchurch to inspect the level of damage and are to report back in 48 hours.

Prime Minister John Key was on an air force flight to Christchurch, which was expected to arrive at 3pm, after stopping in Wellington to pick up Mr. Carter and Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee.

Mr. Key said the Government would help out where it could.

“We are not going to let Christchurch suffer this great tragedy on its own,” he told TV One.