New Zealand's Christchurch reopens to business after quakes

08:49, December 27, 2010      

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Most of the central area in New Zealand South Island city of Christchurch were reopened to business on Monday after Sunday's cluster of aftershocks caused part of the central business district to be cordoned off.

Christchurch continued to rumble overnight with two further aftershocks following the magnitude 4.9 quake which shook the city at 10:30 a.m. Sunday causing shoppers to flee as bricks and mortar crashed from buildings.

Over two dozen smaller quakes have also struck the city since Sunday morning.

The latest aftershocks were a magnitude 4.4 quake at a shallow depth of 3 km just after midnight Monday followed by magnitude 3.0 aftershock at a depth of 6 km, at 2 a.m. Both located close to the center of Christchurch, the New Zealand Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences reported.

A Christchurch police communications spokesman said there were a few reports of damage.

Acting mayor Ngaire Button said most of the cordons in central Christchurch had been removed following a briefing Monday morning.

Police, council staff and engineers will be carrying out assessments throughout the day.

Sunday's aftershocks were a setback for retailers for which Boxing Day sales were so important, Button said.

There were no reports of injuries, despite the largest aftershock happening mid-morning on one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

Water, wastewater and stormwater networks were undamaged, but power was knocked out to about 40,000 properties.

Electricity was restored by about midday although some traffic lights were not working properly.

A Civil Defence Emergency Operations Center was set up at Christchurch City Council's Hereford St building and emergency services were assessing the situation. No major damage had been reported in the suburbs.

A magnitude 7.1 earthquake occurred in New Zealand central South Island's Canterbury region on Sept. 4.

Emergency was declared and the central business district in Christchurch was cordoned-off for several days. Aftershocks have been occurring ever since.

Source: Xinhua

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