Essential repairs done by Christmas Day - council

7:54 am on 25 December 2011

Christchurch City Council is confident that Christmas Day will see everyone in Christchurch with essential services such as sewerage and mains water restored.

The city has been in clean-up mode once again after the latest swarm of earthquakes that began with a 5.8 magnitude tremor at 1.58pm on Friday.

Sewage overflows have meant the estuary, city beaches and rivers are out of bounds for at least three days.

All city council premises, including libraries and recreation centres, are closed until further notice.

Roads were closed in the eastern suburbs and close to the central city as large amounts of silt from liquefaction were removed.

Christchurch mayor Bob Parker wanted emergency repairs to be completed by Saturday night so that all but a skeleton staff would be able to enjoy Christmas Day with their families.

Some workers would remain on call, however, in case there are further serious tremors.

With emergency repairs out of the way, the next week will be taken up with engineers checking buildings and structures for damage.

Mr Parker has said he is optimistic about the soundness of the infrastructure.

Services already back on in some areas

Mains water supply was restored to all homes in Redcliffs and Sumner early on Saturday afternoon after a pipeline broke in one of the swarm of earthquake aftershocks.

A magnitude 4.3 aftershock at 1.21am fractured the pipeline that crosses the causeway to Sumner, Redcliffs and Mt Pleasant. Water had to be cut while the leak was repaired.

Sumner residents spoken to by Radio New Zealand News said they were glad that they had already filled various containers with water.

Residents in the eastern suburb of Parklands were still without water and sewerage on Saturday afternoon.

The suburb was also badly hit by liquefaction and residents were faced with the task of removing the piles of silt the tremors have produced.

One resident, Suzanne Fortune - whose husband was in the CTV building when the February quake struck - says while her children will receive their presents, the state of the suburb means it won't be possible to invite people over to celebrate the day.

The initial quake at 1.58am on Friday cut electricity to 26,000 subscribers but by Saturday afternoon all but 30 homes were back on the grid and work was going on to reconnect them. .

DHB services back to normal

Canterbury District Health Board says all its services are operating normally after a check of all its sites by structural engineers.

It says there is no damage that should concern the public.

Burwood hospital's birthing unit is open again.

The DHB says patients in oncology and neurosurgery wards at Christchurch hospital have been moved to another area of the hospital, but this is for patients' peace of mind rather than for safety reasons.

The emergency department is operating at normal levels and there are relatively few earthquake-related casualties.

New quakes 'wake-up call'

Mayor Bob Parker says the earthquakes of the past two days are a wake-up call to people refusing to leave their Port Hills homes despite the threat of court action.

Earlier this month, Christchurch City Council issued notices to 27 homeowners in the area whose homes, it said, were in danger from collapsing cliffs and landslides.

The notices gave them 20 days to leave or face court action.

Mr Parker says Friday's events should be a warning to those who believe they can ignore the rules and think they know more than the experts about the safety of the area.

The council says rock falls remain a potential hazard in the Port Hills and many tracks are closed, including the Rapaki track which had reopened only hours before Friday's quake, having been out-of-bounds since the February earthquake.