7.5 earthquake near Hanmer at 12.02 am damages Kaikoura; felt strongly in Wellington; reports of damage in Wellington buildings; Tsunami warning downgraded

7.5 earthquake near Hanmer at 12.02 am damages Kaikoura; felt strongly in Wellington; reports of damage in Wellington buildings; Tsunami warning downgraded

By Bernard Hickey in Wellington

A magnitude 7.5 earthquake centred near Hanmer Springs at the top of the South Island has killed two people in Kaikoura and has damaged buildings and port facilities in Wellington.

Slips and quake damage cut road and rail links throughout the top of the South Island, while the coastal shipping connection between Wellington and Picton have also been cut off because of damage to port facilities in both Picton and Wellington.

Transport operators said logistics networks, particularly between Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, could be significantly affected for weeks and months to come as freight normally carried by road and rail is diverted to coastal shipping -- particularly for Fast Moving Consumer Goods usually run on 'just in time' delivery systems on road and rail through the Cook Strait and down road and rail via Kaikoura.

Prime Minister John Key has said while visiting Kaikoura in the afternoon that the damage was much worse than first thought.

In later comments in radio interviews (see the interview above with John Campbell on RNZ) he said there were at least six slips similar to the big slip that blocked the Manawatu Gorge for over a year in 2011 and the cost could run into the billions. The Manawatu Gorge road was closed in August 2011 after a large slip and was re-opened after 13 months of repairs costing over NZ$21.4 million.

"It's just utter devastation, I just don't know...that's months of work," Key told Acting Civil Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee while flying over the affected areas.

"The roading and rail issues north and south on State Highway 1 are horrendous. If you turn your mind back to the Manawatu Gorge plus some. I saw at least six of that size north of Kaikoura," he said.

"It's a massive clean-up job."

Police report broken glass on many streets in the Wellington CBD and residents report a few chimneys have toppled into houses.

Centre Port, which operates the Port in Wellington, said early on Monday afternoon it had suspended operations until further notice while it inspects its facilities.

“We have sustained damage to buildings and the port and also some liquefaction and differential settlement in places," Chief Executive Derek Nind said in a statement, adding staff were inspecting the port and its assets during daylight hours and it inspected buildings would be re-occupied over the coming days.

The Ministry of Civil Defence reported buildings had collapsed in Kaikoura and tsunami waves have been recorded at Kaikoura at Christchurch.

Big impact on logistics systems

Mainfreight and other freight operators warned that logistics networks would be affected, particularly for those freighting goods from Auckland and Wellington to Christchurch by ferry, truck and rail.

"Damage remains to the linkspan (ferry loading ramp) in Wellington, which is critical in the loading and unloading of road and rail units on and off the Inter-Island ferries," Mainfreight said in a note to customers.

"KiwiRail appears hopeful to report back a timeline to complete repairs tomorrow," it said.

Freight operators said they may have to find other coastal shipping options to transport goods from Auckland to Christchurch. They recommended suppliers who usually moved goods via Cook St to stock up in Auckland and Christchurch.

"Our Auckland and Christchurch teams are sourcing as much capacity and equipment as possible to expand coastal shipping options," Mainfreight said.

"Service delays are imminent as coastal services will be impacted by port congestion and on-board space restrictions due to this event and seasonal imports. We are recommending to our Inter-Island customers to consider increasing stockhold in either our Christchurch or Auckland warehouses as an option to mitigate ongoing Inter-Island transit delays during this challenging period," it said.

NZTA said in a note at 3.30 pm that the main highways linking Seddon with Kaikoura and Cheviot had been cut by slips and it was trying to open up new routes, but cautioned alternatives would take an extra three hours and would be down to one lane in places. It said it was looking to re-open an old road to re-establish contact with Kaikoura.

"To enable access to Kaikoura, we are working with Kaikoura District Council to open the inland road (old State Highway 70) between Culverden and Kaikoura," NZTA said.

"Work crews are currently assessing the road and structures for damage and we hope to have this route safely open within days."d

At 5.45 pm NZTA said an alternative inland state highway route has been re-established between Picton and Christchurch, via Murchison and the Lewis Pass.

"NZTA contractors have been working urgently throughout the day to assess the safety of bridges and clear slips to safely open the route. Vitally, this will re-establish access for communities, as well as allowing large trucks through to Christchurch," NZTA said.

Wellington CBD open from Tuesday

Officials have advised people not to travel into Wellington's CBD and there are reports of liquefaction on reclaimed areas on and near the waterfront.

As of 1.30 pm, I have just completed a two-hour walk around the streets of Wellington and along the waterfront to the Port and can find little substantial damage, other than cracks in the pavement and the occasional lump of plaster that has fallen off older building exteriors. The CBD is very quiet because of the official advice to stay away.

Prime Minister John Key told reporters in Wellington before 9 am there had been two fatalities and the township of Kaikoura was cut off because road closures. He said an RNZAF NH 90 helicopter was being flown to Kaikoura to establish better communications.

"The area is cut off from a road perspective," Key said.

"One casualty has been reported at a collapsed property in Kaikoura. Police are also trying to access a property at Mt Lyford north of Christchurch where a further casualty has been reported, which is believed to be a fatality," the Police Media Centre said earlier in the morning.

A Tsunami warning was downgraded to a marine and beach threat for the East Coast of New Zealand shortly after 6 am, the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management said.

Wellington's rail network has been closed until further notice for safety checks, Wellington Police Transport Manager Mike Wright said.

Wellington City Council said early on Monday members of the public were urged to stay away from central Wellington for at least this afternoon and evening because forecast high winds could dislodge broken glass and other materials from buildings damaged in the earthquakes.

"Wellington City Council inspectors are starting a sweep of the city to do external rapid assessment checks on buildings in the CBD and in suburban commercial areas in the wake of the big quakes. However it is likely that not all buildings will be able to be made safe and there is a risk the forecast winds of up to 140kmh could bring glass and other materials into the streets," it said.

Wellington City Civil Defence Controller Simon Fleisher said pedestrians and motorists should avoid CBD streets until further notice.

Wellington Regional Civil Defence Controller Bruce Pepperell said: "Early indications are that a number of major buildings are showing “signs of structural stress” and that the strong quake will likely have caused a mess and disruption inside some buildings – particularly on higher floors."

Mayor Justin Lester told reporters late on Monday that the Wellington CBD would be open for business from Tuesday.

Evacuations of hotels

Key said a large number of people had been evacuated from hotels in central Wellington.

Key, who was staying at Premier House overnight after meeting US Secretary of State John Kerry, described it as the largest shake he could remember in Wellington.

"It was a very significant shake," he said.

Key said in a later statement he had postponed his trip to Argentina, but planned to travel to Peru later this week to attend the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting from November 19-20 "if circumstances permit." He was scheduled to depart tomorrow for Buenos Aires before travelling to Lima for the APEC meeting.

“The situation is still unfolding and we don’t yet know the full extent of the damage,” Key said.

“I believe it is better that I remain in New Zealand in the coming days to offer my assistance and support until we have a better understanding of the event’s full impact," he sai.d

Some schools in Wellington were closed, including Wellington Girls College (WGC), which is in Thorndon between Parliament and the waterfront, because of damage to the school. WGC said NCEA exams would not be held today. Ngaio and Raroa Intermediate schools have been closed for the day to check for damage to buildings. NCEA said it had postponed all its NZ Scholarship exams due to be held today.

Damage to port

There are reports of damage to the Wellington Port, with cracks in roads and liquefaction. The glass-fronted BNZ building on the waterfront is also reported to be damaged.

The Cook Strait ferries are moored in Wellington Harbour and unable to berth because of damage to berthing areas in both Wellington and Picton, Civil Defence officials said.

The picture below from Isaac Davison by Twitter shows damage to a road and railway tracks at the Port of Wellington.

This is a picture circulated on social media of slips blocking the main highway and railway near Kaikoura.

Here is National MP for Kaikoura Stuart Smith standing in a chasm in state highway 1 near Tirohanga stream south of Kaikoura.

There are no early estimates of the cost of any damage. The New Zealand dollar initially dropped around 30 basis points to 70.8 USc, but quickly rebounded to 71 USc, having fallen from 73 USc on Thursday and Friday night because of higher US interest rates in the wake of Donald Trump's surprise election. The NZX said the market would open as normal this morning. The Reserve Bank said the ESAS-NZClear payment networks were fully operational.

Insurers have advised those with damage to document the extent of it with photos.

The earthquake moved parts of the earth by two metres in some place.

This picture circulated on social media shows damage to State Highway 1 near Kaikoura.

This picture circulated on social media shows damage to shopfronts in Picton.

(Updated with more details, pictures, video of Key news conference, details of Key delaying APEC trip, Updated after walk around CBD, Centre Port suspension of operations 'until further notice', comments from Key in fresh video)

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66 Comments

Everyone OK? That was quite a ride.

We're ok here in Wellington. We welcome any reports from readers on what they're seeing and experiencing.

wow never felt it this far north before that was a biggie, hope all are ok wellington, and south island

Wellington has closed the CBD for damage and building checks. Apparently limited bus services but all other public transport has closed down.

People I know who live in the CBD reported broken glass from buildings but that's consistent with what you see on news sites. A number of my friends living close to the coast evacuated in the early hours, both in Wellington and Christchurch.

Pretty continuous aftershocks.

Wow ! ... the bed was shaking for a full two minutes ...

... that was so much better than sex ... it lasted 4 times longer , and was a darn sight less messy ...

[ ... 80 km south of the epicentre of the 7.5 rock & roll ... ]

Friend in Wellington reported that water drained out real far at the Lyall Bay beach.

Firstly, my very sincere condolences to all people affected by this morning's quakes.

Financially speaking, there will be some fairly strained Finance and Risk Management meetings in insurance companies across the board this morning.

Already, some insurance companies are materially stressed under the weight of ongoing Christchurch obligations. How much more can NZ's insurance industry take (and affordably reinsure for)?

Anticipating an email putting up the premiums fairly soon.

I feel for the guy in Wellington with a ceiling that came down and a kitchen full of insul-fluff. Insul-fluff is the worst substance on Earth.

Epicures are telling a harrowing storey, enormous amount of ground movement. Thoughts are with those having to cope.
Any bets on which insurance co goes under next, this is really going to hurt them, and the big question, will the government step in this time having set the precedent with AMI?

Barely felt it here in Khandallah. Countdown in croftons downs is packed though. Never seen so much toilet paper being bought

Neglible building damage in Christchurch. No comparison to Feb 2011 shaking.

More than interesting that the earthquake occurred on a Super Moon. Remember Feb 2011 and a number of the major aftershocks coincided with full moons. As did Napier 1931.

Surely more than a coincidence and the gravitational effects on the crust could be a trigger effect for certain types of earthquakes.

It's a shame that "scientists" poo-pooed the correlation 6 years ago rather than studying it like scientists should. (A bit like the Clinton pollsters really...)

Time to build more tidal energy plants as this will push the moon's orbit further away and decrease its gravitational force?

Actually, the latest study says that the moon does not trigger earthquakes but does make those that occur larger. http://www.astronomy.com/news/2016/09/can-the-moon-make-and-earthquake-w...

Scientists don't believe in co-incidence, except when they do.

I always found it interesting that the moon can move trillions of litres of water around the planet. But has zero impact on the trillions of litres of magma lying just underneath.

The gravitational forces on the affected area are orders of magnitude smaller than the geological ones
- the lunar tidal acceleration at the Earth's surface along the Moon-Earth axis is about 0.00000011g
- Christchurch Feb earthquake produced ground acceleration of 2g

I understand that, but its not so much the acceleration itself, rather the possible cause. If liquid under a plate moves, the plate moves too. If it moves enough it causes a tectonic slip or earthquake, which then causes the ground acceleration.

I find it odd that science has completely disregarded this with little to no investigation.

It has been studied and no credible link ahs been found. The viscosity of magma means that it does not move as easily as water. The moon exerts a gravitational force on it but this is mostly turned into heat due to the friction of the moving magma.

Jupiter's moon Io is a much more extreme example and volcano formation there has been studied. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tidal_heating_of_Io

The 2g was an impulse from the rupture. Only a small force may be required to overcome the frictional forces which are preventing the rupture. Imagine a rock sitting on a flat wooden board, if the board is tilted, raising it on one side by 1mm (or 0.1 or 0.01mm) at a time, at some point friction will be overcome causing the rock to slide and crash to the ground. The energy required to raise the board 0.01mm is tiny compared with the energy released when it slides to the ground.

Maybe this is the big little force needed.

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/look-up-tonight-to-see-the-biggest-supe...

Particularly telling....maybe..

At its closest point Monday, the moon will be about 221,524 miles from Earth — about 30,000 miles closer than is typical. The moon hasn’t been this close since 1948, and it won’t be this near again until Nov. 25, 2034.

You are right, the 2g acceleration was cause by the force of the rupture on the surface, the seismic moment force is typically 40,000 times larger. http://alabamaquake.com/energy.html#/

To use your tipping analogy, assuming 1m is needed to tip it, then the moon is adding 0.000000000002m. The Wellington fault ruptures roughly every 150 years (=55,000 days) so the daily equivalent movement would be 0.00002m or 100 million times bigger.

Silly me; I thought that this was an economics blog, not a science one.

Ignorance and hearsay have no place in the real or the dismal science

Silly me; I thought that this was an economics blog, not a science one.

http://www.express.co.uk/news/science/732222/supermoon-earthquake-new-ze...

The bigger picture...over the Moon...is 3 or 4 big ones enough and is it raising more tremors, with the conspiracy theorists or is it just shock horror, a simple coincidence.

Driving away from New Brighton early in the morning, half asleep, as the tsunami sirens are blaring is not a fun experience. .."so this is what the end looks like" comes to mind...

SH1 appears to be screwed. So is the rail. Looking at the pics it could be out for months, if not permanently.

Be interesting to see how the Govt approach this.

It'll be real interesting to see how quickly SH1 is repaired. Also wondering if the national government will use the rail damage as an opportunity to downsize the rail network.

I agree with your rail assessment. It will not be financially viable to repair most of the stuff running along the coast north/south of Kaikoura. That then cuts your Chch to Picton, network. So might as well just scrap it.

But based on the approach to Chch the Govt will take 4-5 years before they even start to realise this.

The govt have kown of this risk for years. The area off Kaikoura has major risks. SH 1 needs diverting along that coast (even withour sea rises). There have been risk reports.... wikipedia covers some of it ..

Sediment consisting of fine sand and silt is being deposited at the head of the Kaikoura Canyon with an estimated total volume of 0.24 cubic kilometres accumulated. A near-field tsunami caused by the displacement of this sediment poses a significant threat to the surrounding area, especially coastal infrastructure such as roads and houses

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaikoura_Peninsula

forget tax cuts, plenty of cash required for the basics before we spend on wish lists..

I think we are at the point now that even with tax increases we don't even have enough to cover the basics.

An idea of the damage the rail lines have sustained.
https://twitter.com/emtvnews/status/797934833477394432/photo/1

Jeepers ! ... that was a big aftershock ... heck ... really rocked and rolled ... just one minute ago .. 6.4 !

Yep - rocking side to side here in Christchurch - 6.6 30 km north of Cheviot

EDIT

GeoNet has downgraded to a 6.4

Here in New Plymouth as well. Not so much rocking and rolling. More a gentle sway.

We just had a big 6.6 aftershock, which was similar to the first one. I wonder if it will cool the housing market a bit in Wellington, as people hate earthquakes. At least Auckland doesn't get them bad.

Nah far more likely to get a Volcanoe eruption in AKL. But at least with that there should be enough warning to evacuate.

It would make a good tourist attraction - fireworks display every night.

Wouldn't that be the mother of all traffic jams.

This is very much the single reason why I will personally not move into an apartment within NZ.

If it wasn't for the sheer number of earthquakes we experience in general I would have preferred a decent apartment over a house.

... over the course of our recorded history , an average of 6 people per year have perished due to earthquakes ... but in any given year 300 folk die on our roads ...

I recommend you buy that apartment ... and telecommute to work ... 50 times safer than venturing out onto our roads ...

There are probably more killed by cows each year.

5700 Kiwis die each year , every year , from cigarettes .... lung cancer and other smoking related illnesses ...

... that is 30 times the number of folk who died in the one Christchurch earthquake , in February 2011 ...

5700 !!! ... 20 times our annual road toll .... suck on that ...

I was simply saying that a house would be my preference compared to an apartment for a given earthquake of equal magnitude. i.e. my preference since I have a choice.

I have personally experienced a decent earthquake overseas while I was on 13th floor. Pretty helpless feeling as you can't even leave the building. All you can do is wait it out while everything around you shakes.

(Unfortunately) Where were the most casualties during the Christchurch earthquake again?

The CTV building .... it was offices & TV recording studios ... not apartments ....

... I experienced a 7.1 earthquake , whilst high up in the New Sanno Hotel in Tokyo ... she rocked a bit ... but otherwise , safe as houses ... I did not feel " helpless " in the slightest ...

Heavy rain in Wellington now. More to come under President Trump?

Terrible situation for all those living through this nightmare. Economic impact of this quake will be huge, tourism this season and next will take a hit, with the damaged roads and bridges in the South Island milk tankers will not be able to get to many of the farms, Key now saying cost will be in the billions! Let's hope the govt/EQC get their shit together quicker this time. Will we now have another instant OCR cut? Will the government now have to use up its surplus, borrow more etc? Will Trump refugees still be considering NZ?

Terrible situation for all those living through this nightmare. Economic impact of this quake will be huge, tourism this season and next will take a hit, with the damaged roads and bridges in the South Island milk tankers will not be able to get to many of the farms, Key now saying cost will be in the billions! Let's hope the govt/EQC get their shit together quicker this time. Will we now have another instant OCR cut? Will the government now have to use up its surplus, borrow more etc? Will Trump refugees still be considering NZ?

Condolences to those affected.
It's another big wake up call for those who complacently go on about NZ's perfection. Our susceptibility to seismic events is a major weakness/risk. The effect is exacerbated in a small country.

Does anyone else think it's a bit premature to reopen the Wellington CBD?
I'm not sure I'd be keen to go in to work tomorrow if I lived there.
Mind you, I guess you can't stop living, and there could be a major aftershock in one minute, or in one month, or not at all.

Yep I'm Wellington born and bred, living in Auckland.
I definitely would not be going to work tomorrow in the CBD.

I would also like to offer my Condolences to those affected by the earthquakes.

Worrying that so little is coming out about the situation in Kaikoura.

ummm, question: why have all those buildings been built on the Wellington Waterfront?
Apparently the Stats NZ building could be closed for months.
Dumb, dumb and dumber

Add to that, the adjacent Greater Wellington Regional Council building, Shed 39.

http://www.gw.govt.nz/directions-to-gwrc-2-fryatt-quay-pipitea/

A floor has collapsed in the stats nz building....
Really dumb

Can understand property developers ignoring everything but short term profit, but any organisation leasing a building on reclaimed land needs to take another look at the risk assessment.

Holes in their head kakapo.
What is it with this country? Lack of brain cells because of too much rugby?

Really Kakapo. Developers are often owners or they sell to owners who certainly don't ignore everything but short term profit. Long term thinking is the core and most profitable way of thinking in commercial property.

Has our population building program made us less or more resilient?

What happens when a 7.5 strikes under Wellington?

That would be Christchurch damage times ten...

Wellington would have multiple areas of damage:

Tsunami destruction
Liquefaction on flat and reclaimed areas
Landslips on steeper areas
Potential direct displacement damage around fault lines (if the Wellington fault goes)
Then consider all the concrete and steel buildings designed to survive an earthquake but not necessarily being repairable after an earthquake.
Then consider all of the masonry and concrete buildings that don't even survive an earthquake.

The scary thing is that this series of quakes are on a direct line to Wellington, yet not on a single fault line, who knows if they will act like the Darfield Earthquake causing the Chch earthquakes and cause another earthquake further north??

We don't know? But Wellington needs to be prepared for a M7+ if not M8+ like 1855. If there are issues around public safety they need dealt with now.

I noticed while in Wellington last month that bus stops in Newtown were under unreinforced masonry buildings. Areas where people congregate and bus's stop should not be in places where death is 100% guaranteed if a M7+ strikes within Wellington City.

Government and local council should actually have done a full assessment of all such risks years ago and dealt with them (that means doing something like moving the bus stops rather than necessarily demolishing buildings.

A full assessment of CBD risks need done as well. If a building has a DEE they will be able to calculate for what level of shaking collapse will occur. Use ChCh data as a guide and make safe passages and safe places known to the public.

If 10,000 people are killed because an M8 hits central Wellington during work time on a week day, it's not like the Government have any excuse, given the number of warnings they have had.

Grand sounding statement that Govt has no excuse but who will pay for bringing buildings up to the required ratio to a new build standard that would withstand a M7+ ?
Rent increases required to fund this would render many Wgn businesses unviable, esp CBD.
Without a massive subsidy from the rest of NZ, the only way it can be done is incrementally over a multi year period, unless you are advocating overnight destruction of Wgns economic base.

She'll be right

Is there any Ministry bank a/c where we can directly make donations towards the rebuilding efforts ?

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