Christchurch was so badly damaged in last month’s deadly earthquake that parts of New Zealand’s second largest city will have to be abandoned, Prime Minister John Key has said.
Key confirmed 10,000 homes faced demolition after the 6.3-magnitude tremor which is believed to have claimed more than 200 lives, warning that rebuilding would not be possible in some areas.
“We simply don’t know,” he told Radio New Zealand when asked which parts of the city would be deserted. “We know there’s been substantial liquefaction damage.
“It’s a statement of fact that there will be some properties that can’t be rebuilt… the question is whether it (rebuilding) is possible for certain parts of the city, certain streets or houses.”
Key said geotechnical engineers were working urgently to clarify the areas worst affected by liquefaction, caused when the quake’s shaking loosened the bonds between soil particles, turning the ground into a quagmire.
Community worker Tom McBrearty said the prime minister’s comments had increased anxiety among residents still reeling from the February 22 quake. “They interpreted… it as being that the riverside communities would not be allowed to be rebuilt, which is at this stage is incorrect. We don’t know, we’re still waiting for final analysis.”
Key said the government would provide financial assistance to those who were forced to move and was in talks with developers about releasing new subdivisions to cope with the demand for housing in the stricken city.
Christchurch mayor Bob Parker said speculation on the fate of entire suburbs was “alarmist” and urged residents to wait until geotechnical reports were complete.
Sad, sad tale. Although this earthquake technically was an aftershock of last year’s quake, it blasted along a new fault and being closer to the surface and in a populous area – just did an enormous amount of damage. More than anyone had foreseen.