Christchurch, New Zealand (AFP) Sept 6, 2010
The rubble-strewn heart of Christchurch resembled a ghost town Monday as troops took control of the city centre to enforce a no-go zone in the wake of Saturday's 7.0 magnitude earthquake.
"It's a strange sight, just absolutely eerie and very quiet," Christchurch hotelier Anna Crighton said from her bed-and-breakfast on the fringe of the central business district.
"There's hardly anyone around and no cars. I can look out of my window and just see a pile of rubble in the middle of the road."
The regular Monday morning bustle in New Zealand's second largest city was absent after officials extended a state of emergency until Wednesday and told workers to stay out of the town centre.
Uniformed soldiers manned checkpoints leading into the inner city, while army and police helicopters using a local park as a temporary airbase buzzed overhead as they carried out aerial damage reconnaissance .
School playgrounds across Christchurch and the neighbouring districts of Selwyn and Kaiapoi were silent, with classrooms deemed unsafe until structural engineers complete damage assessments.
Retailers were among the few people allowed into the city centre, not to open their businesses but to check if their shops were salvageable.
Bookshop owner Barry Hancox said he had a lucky escape after last month relocating his business from a shop where it had operated for more than 50 years, which was wrecked in the tremor.
"It's amazing, timing's everything," he told Sky News, noting much of his old shop had been reduced to rubble while premises a few doors along were untouched.
Three days after Saturday's pre-dawn quake, residents were still being advised to boil drinking water because of the risk of contamination and about 200 people whose homes were uninhabitable were sheltering in welfare centres.
"There's a lot of people out there who are hurting," police inspector John Price said.
Urging residents to check on their neighbours and friends, Price said it was too early to say when life in the city would return to normal.
"We need to make sure people are safe when they go back into that environment," he said.
Crighton said her 1892-built property was relatively unscathed because it had been earthquake-strengthened a few years ago but she was "heartbroken" at the devastation suffered by some of the old buildings that gave the city its character.
"We seen overseas, where people have rushed to demolish after widespread devastation and we can't let that happen here," she told AFP.
One of the properties under threat is the sprawling Deans homestead on the Canterbury Plains, owned by relatives of Wallabies coach Robbie Deans, where the 2005 film "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" was filmed.
Sections of the brick-built dwelling's walls collapsed when the quake hit, leaving the roof teetering precariously.
"It is a miracle that they all got out alive,' neighbour Gillie Deans told the Australian newspaper. "Nature can be such a bitch."
Share This Article With Planet Earth
Bringing Order To A World Of Disasters
A world of storm and tempest
When the Earth Quakes
United Nations (AFP) Sept 2, 2010
A growing use of weapons and cocaine trading through quake-stricken Haiti threaten stability ahead of key November elections, the United Nations said Thursday. A new report on the impoverished Caribbean state, where a magnitude 7.0 earthquake on January 12 killed 250,000 people, said criminal gangs are increasing their grip on many of the 1,300 camps where most of the estimated 1.3 million h ... read more
Eerie silence as army takes charge in NZ quake zone|
Stalled funding hits Pakistan aid effort: UN
Crime, drugs threaten Haiti election: UN report
Hungry flood-hit Pakistanis protest lack of help
Bacteria could make self-healing concrete
Scientists create 'smarter' materials
Sony unveils new e-readers, adds touchscreen to all models
Apple unveils new iPods, cuts Apple TV price
Pollution and worsening quality focus of World Water Week
Bangladesh dams to reclaim 600 square kms of land
Amazon at lowest level in over 40 years in Peru: experts
The Atlantic And Pacific Climate Connection
Fuel tanker runs aground in Canadian Arctic: coast guard
Researchers Find A 'great Fizz' Of Carbon Dioxide At The End Of The Last Ice Age
Why Fish Don't Freeze In The Arctic Ocean
Receding ice could unlock arctic trove
NGOs call for Romanian minister to be sacked for GM links
Medvedev hints at end to Russia grain export ban
EU summons BASF over 'illegal' potatoes in Swedish field
Snack time leaves 87 toddlers in hospital in China
Toll from deadly Guatemala landslides rises to 44
Floods displace thousands more in Ethiopia
Hermine prompts hurricane watches in Mexico, Texas
Emergency extended in quake-hit New Zealand city
Safari Slovaks held in plot claim freed: C.Africa
U.S. tries to curb looting of Congo
Rwanda threatens Sudan peacekeeper pullout over UN report
South Sudan to end use of child soldiers 'by year's end'
Internet an equalizer for people with disabilities
First Clear Evidence Of Feasting In Early Humans
The Mother Of All Humans
Giant Chinese 'Michelin baby' startles doctors: reports
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2010 - SpaceDaily. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement|