Severe Quakes Aftermath

UntitledWellington re-opens after earthquakes

Wellington has been declared open for business again by city’s leaders after yesterday’s magnitude-6.5 earthquake and aftershocks.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said at a press briefing this afternoon thousands of buildings in the city had been assessed and about 35 had external damage, such as broken masonry or windows.

Cordons would remain in place on Featherston St, largely because of danger of falling windows, and Wade-Brown said there was no timeframe for their removal at this stage.

Wade-Brown said if employers were happy their buildings were safe, workers could go back into the office tomorrow.

She said Wellington has its own volunteer student army, which people could join via Facebook.

Greater Wellington chairperson Fran Wilde said Wellington ports would be open for business again tonight, and despite some water damage in buildings it would not stop them operating.

GNS scientist Dr Ken Gledhill said the probability of a magnitude 6 or bigger earthquake in the next day had dropped down from 7 per cent and the chances of a big quake happening in next week was down to 19 per cent.

At its maximum point last night, the quake was 14 per cent the force of gravity – by comparison, the Canterbury quake was double the force of gravity.

Gledhill said the aftershocks were following a normal, downward trend.

Prime Minister’s view

Despite taking an emotional toll, the quake had not caused ‘tremendously significant’ damage, Prime Minister John Key said this morning.

Mr Key said: “the city has come through it very well, from what we can see.”

Comments from GNS science that there was a possibility the quakes could set off a larger quake on the Wellington fault have been no comfort at all.

The 6.5 quake, which struck at 5.09pm, was the strongest of a swarm that were centred in Cook Strait. Four people had suffered minor injuries, while reports of damage have flowed in to authorities.

Aftershocks have continued ever since, with new ones every few minutes.

A magnitude 5.2 quake centred 25 kilometres east of Seddon at a depth of 9km was felt sharply in the capital at 10.47am.