Official figures released on Tuesday by Civil Defence tag the number of homes condemned to date in Christchurch at 2,190, around 7,800 shy of a 10,000 estimate of likely demolitions from the Government.
Civil Defence and Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker have questioned where the Prime Minister John Key and Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee obtained their estimate of 10,000 houses to be demolished.
Brownlee later said the 10,000 estimate came from the Earthquake Commission's geotechnical engineers in the first few days after the earthquake on February 22.
Although hundreds, if not thousands more houses could be red-stickered (signaling their destruction) as inspectors assess properties, civil defence staff were scratching their heads yesterday following an update from Prime Minister John Key on the earthquake situation.
Brownlee said on Tuesday evening the preliminary 10,000 figure was not based on Civil Defence's process of red-stickering houses.
"A red sticker on a house simply means it is presently uninhabitable," Brownlee said in a media release.
“Our experience to date, and the advice we’re getting, is there will be a number of other people living in houses that are still habitable who after full assessment will find their house is not economic to repair and will need to be rebuilt. There are also a number of red stickered houses which are likely to be able to be repaired," Brownlee said.
Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker has questioned the government's figures and the risks of speculating. (See TVNZ story here).
Prime Minister John Key told reporters Monday that in addition to the 10,000 homes doomed for destruction a further 100,000 were damaged.
He also suggested that the Government might buy out those homeowners who did not want to return to liquefied neigbhorhoods beyond repair.
Civil Defence media relations said those figures were inconsistent with their own records as only 70,000 of the 190,000 or so houses in Christchurch have so far been inspected.
The authority expects to complete its city-wide assessment by the end of the week.
The extent and cost of damage on those homes not condemned remains unclear.
Because of demand placed on emergency services officials and civil defence, authorities have dispensed with the tri-colour coding process that was followed with the Sept.4, 2010 earthquake. The colouring system would normally give some indication of costs with yellow stickers denoting serious structural damage and green stickers minor.
Civil Defence spokesman David Miller said inspectors were only identifying those houses that were not habitable by placing red stickers on them to ensure the safety of residents by covering as many houses as possible.
Treasury has estimated residential damage from the Feb.22 earthquake at NZ$6 billion. (For more see article by Alex Tarrant).
The Earthquake Commission said last week that it was anticipating around 100,000 new claims. It was had received 170,000 from the Sept.4, 2010 earthquake and was due to complete all its work there by end of March when the more devastating 6.3 magnitude quake struck.
EQC chief executive David Simpson has already stated that the EQC was sufficiently funded to cover the subsequent costs. (For more see article by Amanda Morrall)
For further updates from Christchurch Civil Defence (including the names of the killed and missing) visit their website.
Here is the full release by Brownlee on Tuesday evening:
The preliminary figure of around 10,000 houses in Canterbury needing to be rebuilt was provided by the Earthquake Commission’s geotechnical engineers in the first few days after the earthquake on 22 February, Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee said today.
"This was an early indication of the number of rebuilds likely due to damage caused by the earthquake," Mr Brownlee said.
It was based on projected information obtained from the 4 September earthquake and the significant increase in land damage observed in aerial flyovers after the 22 February earthquake.
Around 3,500 properties already required demolition and rebuilding after the first earthquake on 4 September 2010.
In addition to the properties which need to be rebuilt because of damage caused by liquefaction and lateral spreading, there are also a number of houses which will need to be rebuilt because they have been damaged by very strong shaking from the 22 February earthquake.
The preliminary figure of around 10,000 was not based on the Civil Defence's process of red stickering houses, Mr Brownlee said.
"A red sticker on a house simply means it is presently uninhabitable.
“Our experience to date, and the advice we’re getting, is there will be a number of other people living in houses that are still habitable who after full assessment will find their house is not economic to repair and will need to be rebuilt.
"There are also a number of red stickered houses which are likely to be able to be repaired."
(Updates with government response)