"If it looks unsafe; stay out"
If that's not the last thing people in Christchurch need to hear before Christmas Day.
Another earthquake with two large aftershocks, all measuring above 5 on the Richter Scale, and all situated very close to the city center. Eastern suburbs are again plagued by liquefaction and flooding, while hilly areas by the sea have seen cliffs erode into the water. Dust clouds have been seen from the cliffs where rocks have released dust while moving, not to mention a plume of dust coming from the Red Zone, presumably from the battered cathedral.
Airport operation was immediately suspended, pending checks to ensure the runway and other infrastructure were indeed safe. The airport reopened at approximately 6pm, with only cosmetic damage, but no damage to runway. Airlines are now responsible for restarting services and ensuring backlogs are cleared, especially with the backlog creating congestion at Auckland and Wellington.
Fortunately there is no Civil Defence emergency, with the Christchurch City Council (minus Bob Parker, who is on holiday in Taupō) and Civil Defence managing things well on their own, with no additional help from Wellington needed. The utilities are holding up well so far, though 15000 homes served by Orion are without power temporarily. With few injuries and no fatalities, fortunately the city has got away with this one relatively unhurt.
With the new government, the Christchurch situation will be at the front of many member's minds upon their return to the house in February. The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister, Gerry Brownlee will be back to work and very busy with the new issues brought up with the latest shakes. More damage and more insurance woes are hardly what Christchurch wanted for Christmas, so the assurance from government that they can sleep soundly on Christmas Eve will be needed. Brownlee is the member for Ilam, a local, should be a challenge he can rise to.
* Photo from Wikimedia Commons