By Angela Beswick
Police have confirmed multiple fatalities following this afternoon’s earthquake in Christchurch.
The quake struck just before 1pm with a magnitude of 6.3 on the Richter scale.
Civil Defence are now assessing the damage and it is understood Christchurch has run out of available ambulances. The injured are now being transported to hospital using 4x4 vehicles.
National agencies have been activated and are being coordinated via the National Crisis Management Centre.
A State of Emergency was declared for Christchurch city at 2.45pm.
The Christchurch Cathedral has been destroyed in the quake, with video footage capturing the moment the iconic building crumbled.
At least 80 percent of the central city is believed to be without power and temporary accommodation is being organised for those who are displaced. Civil Defence is looking at erecting tents in Hagley Park.
The hospital has been evacuated and Auckland Hospital is now on Code Red to receive patients. Several rest homes are also being considered for evacuation. Police are warning people not to jump in and try to help with the rescue or dig through the rubble themselves.
Civil Defence advises people in the area should:
- Expect aftershocks
- If you do experience an aftershock; drop, cover and hold on
- Assess your home or workplace for damage. If the building appears unsafe, get everyone out.
- Use stairs, not elevators
- When outside, watch for fallen power lines or broken gas lines
- Stay out of damaged areas
- Look for and extinguish small fires – if it is safe to do so.
- Do not overload phones with non-emergency calls
- Help those who require special assistance – infants, elderly, those without transportation, families, people with disabilities and those who care for them.
Residents are advised not to drink the water as it may be contaminated.
The account @safeinchch has been set up for first hand news of those who are located safe and well.
Christchurch airport have declared oneways open for two kinds of flights:
- Medical evacuations out and assistance coming in
- The Prime Minister
An evacuation flight is scheduled for this afternoon. It is unknown yet how many people are going to be on it, or where it is going.
Air New Zealand's domestic network is returning to operation, with Air Traffic Control radar coverage gradually resuming.
Meanwhile, triage centres are being established for people with injuries at:
- Latimer Square, Central Christchurch
- Spotlight Mall, Sydenham
- Sanitarium, Papanui
Phone lines in the city are under immense pressure and those trying to contact friends and family are asked to keep all non-essential calls to a minimum.
Telecom is working to establish which services have been affected and get them restored as soon as possible. Some network sites have been badly damaged and are not working,m while others are operating on backup power.
Telecom says its 111 emergency service is stable and the call centre in Christchurch has been successfully diverted to Wellington.
The 111 phone system in Southland is overloaded. Anyone needing urgent assistance from police is asked to phone their local police station direct. The Government helpline 0800 779997 is up and running for earthquake assistance.
While much of Telecom's network in Christchurch remains operable, there is significant congestion and, due to widespread power outages, much of the network is currently working off backup power.
Free calling has been enabled from payphones in and around Christchurch for local, national and mobile calls from 3am Wednesday. Text messaging remains the best way to make contact with friends and family, to avoid congesting phone lines further.
- Follow the latest on the ground in Christchurch on our live stream, which is also being carried by Australia's Channel 9 and Channel 7
source: newshub archive