Saturday, August 17, 2013

Residents escape quake-ridden Seddon - TVNZ

A house in Seddon following the large earthquake on the 16th of August (Source: ONE News)

A house in Seddon following the large earthquake on the 16th of August - Source: ONE News

A house in Seddon following the large earthquake on the 16th of August (Source: Facebook)

A house in Seddon following the large earthquake on the 16th of August - Source: Facebook

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Many Seddon residents have fled the town as aftershocks continue to rattle Marlborough.

The Red Cross went door-to-door checking on residents today, but found around one in three homes empty.

Marlborough District Council staff have also been visiting Seddon homes, inspecting for damage.

"We're finding in urban areas 30% aren't home," said the council's emergency manager Dean Heiford.

"They're with friends or family or have left the area, which is understandable."

But Mr Heiford expressed concern that many Seddon residents would return during the week to find their homes had electrical, plumbing and cladding problems.

Many people still did not have running water and the town had sustained a lot of damage, he said, although the majority of houses were still safe to live in.

Rain is also causing problems, slowing down council teams inspecting properties and causing surface flooding.

Cracks caused by the quakes have filled with water and many bridges and roadways are impassable.

At the Haldon Dam, council contractors have dug out emergency trenches from the pond to release water as a safety precaution.

Major cracks opened up after the quake and heavy downpours were causing water levels to rise a metre every twenty minutes overnight.

Seddon resident Sharon Wilson said left town with her son to escape the aftershocks because she was so "on edge".

"If we have another big one I'm going to go. I'm over it," she said.

The Hickmans' Lake Grassmere house near Seddon was red-stickered after July's quakes, and the property was further damaged in Friday's shake.

Kieran Hickman said he did not think the family would ever be able to live there again.

Structural engineers were due to inspect the house to confirm it could not be rebuilt, he said, but now that was apparent even without an engineer's report.

Aftershocks continue

Relentless aftershocks have rattled the region since Friday's 6.6 magnitude earthquake.

According to GeoNet, around 20 aftershocks struck near Seddon throughout the night, and nearly 30 have hit since 6am.

Most of the shakes have been magnitude two, three and four.

At 4.07am, a magnitude five quake, at a depth of 20 kilometres, struck 5km south-east of the small Marlborough town.

The overnight aftershocks followed a 5.6 magnitude quake that struck at 8.58pm last night, which more than 1000 people reported feeling on the GeoNet website.

State Highway One was reopened about lunchtime yesterday after Friday's quakes caused major cracking in several areas south of Seddon and Ward.

But the main rail line is still shut due to concerns over a tunnel in the area.

Civil Defence had set up a welfare centre in Seddon at the local school for people needing support, but this has now been closed.

Twenty-six people stayed at the school on Friday night due to damaged homes dropping to around 14 people last night.

Wellington focus on lift shaft

Meanwhile, in Wellington, a large crane has arrived to demolish the Lukes Lane lift shaft piece-by-piece.

It has been dubbed the most dangerous structure in Wellington, considered an earthquake risk after being damaged in the July quake and again on Friday.

Dismantling the tower is so complex it will take several days.

Tenants in surrounding buildings were evacuated and will not be allowed back in until the shaft is down.

Engineers were checking other buildings in the capital yesterday, but the Mayor, Celia Wade-Brown, said there was no significant damage from Friday's quake.

Westpac Stadium has been closed and two big events have been cancelled.

But its Chief Executive, Shane Harmon, is confident the stadium will get the all clear from engineers for next weekend's All Blacks Bledisloe Cup match.

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