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article image123+ dead in Christchurch, CBD could be shut for months

By Sharon Davis     Feb 25, 2011 in World
Christchurch - The death toll following the 6.3 aftershock that rattled Christchurch at 12h51 on Tuesday, 22 February has risen to 123 and is expected to rise further as search and rescue operations continue in the ravaged CBD area.
More than 200 people remain missing and unaccounted for - presumed trapped or killed by falling buildings and masonry. According the the NZ Herald there are people of 20 different nationalities amongst those missing.
The last person to be rescued alive was found on Wednesday, a day after the tragedy. While it is not unusual to find people alive up to five, six or even seven day after an earthquake, hope of finding people alive is starting to fade.
According to the NZ Herald:
Police Superintendent Dave Cliff says rescue teams are still operating in the CTV and PGG building sites, and are still at the Christchurch Cathedral, where work was temporarily halted due to falling masonry.
Rescue teams are still working elsewhere in the city, looking through lifts, he says.
Mr Cliff says more than 200 people are still listed as missing after the Christchurch earthquake.
Grave fears are held for missing people from more than 20 countries, he says.
Teams of building inspectors have been going around the city inspecting buildings. According to the NZ Herald:
Mayor Bob Parker says that of the 1000 buildings that have been checked in the CBD, 60 percent have been deemed to be safe, 17 percent have been assessed as safe to access, but 20 to 25 percent have been evacuated and deemed unsafe.
In the suburbs, 341 houses have also been red-stickered and have had to be evacuated.
Lyttleton was hardest hit in terms of day-to-day needs, such as food, he says.
The Otago Daily Times reports:
Once the search for victims of the Christchurch earthquake is over, a demolition operation will clear the central business district (CBD) to make it safe, Earthquake Minister Gerry Brownlee says.
Older buildings in the central area fared poorly in Tuesday's 6.3 magnitude quake, with structural engineers predicting half of those of brick construction will be written off, while 25 percent had already collapsed.
Once bodies had been recovered there would be "a very big demolition effort across the CBD area," Mr Brownlee said.
"Sites will have to be cleared so that people can have confidence it's safe to come back into the CBD," he said.
Some buildings might be able to be repaired but for some months all services operating in the CBD would have to relocate.
It is expected that the CBD could remain closed for several months.
Aftershocks have continued to rock the city. There have been nine recorded so far today, the largest hitting just before 7am with a magnitude of 4.1. These continual reminders are contributing to the stress people in the city are feeling.
According to the NZ Herald:
Canterbury DHB chief executive David Meates says there is a high level of stress in the communities, and asks people to look after each other and talk to each other.
Power has been restored to about 80% of the city, but the areas without power could have to wait up to a week before power company Orion is able to restore power to those areas. About 60 percent of residents now have piped water. Water tankers are supplying areas without running water.
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