John Key to return to quake-ravaged city

Prime Minister John Key
Prime Minister John Key
Prime Minister John Key will visit suburban Bexley when he returns to quake-ravaged Christchurch today.

Bexley is one of the worst-hit areas of the city and questions have been raised over why it was allowed to be built on reclaimed land.

Much of the suburb now lies beneath sandy silt, and many houses have been deemed unfit to live in.

Kaiapoi, Pines Beach and Kairaki, in the Waimakariri district, have also been hit hard, with nearly 400 homes there categorised as unsafe.

Adding to the northern district's woes were "rubber-neckers", Waimakariri mayor Ron Keating said yesterday.

"The rubber-neckers are just driving everyone crazy. They just drive out of Christchurch. They just came off the motorway and last Sunday they were chocka. It's macabre, and they were bumper to bumper and unfortunately we weren't ready for it," Mr Keating told NZPA.

The police and army may have to control all four entries into the town this weekend, "just to let people get on with their lives", he said.

In a sign that some normality was returning to inner-city Christchurch cordons were removed last night, but some streets remain closed, including

Worcester, Manchester, Hereford, High, Cashel and Tuam.

Donations for quake victims had reached $11 million, including $3.5 million pledged to the Red Cross and the $5 million Government contribution to the mayoral fund -- now combined into one fund. Fletcher Building has given Christchurch City Council a $1m grant to go towards the protection and rebuilding of heritage buildings.

The Waimakariri District Council estimates the cost of repairs to its region could range from $67m to $120m, to replace community buildings, utilities, road and footpath repairs.

Chief executive Jim Palmer said repairing parks and buildings alone, including the library, was likely to cost about $7.6m, to be met by insurers, the council and government funding.

Repair of roads -- which cannot be insured -- could cost $25m-$35m but the Government had signalled it would meet up to 90 percent of that.

Fire crews from around the country are being deployed in Christchurch this weekend to relieve tired staff and increase resources at the front line, Internal Affairs Minister Nathan Guy said.

While most schools will reopen on Monday, the students of some may end up at other schools such is the scope of the damage at some schools.

Gerry Brownlee, the minister responsible for co-ordinating the Government's recovery response to the Canterbury earthquake, announced the first stage of streamlined measures to deal with the large volume of claims arising from the earthquake, including the payment from early next week of claims for property and contents damage or loss where there has been no structural damage to the building.

The Christchurch City Council pushed through a new policy for earthquake-prone buildings, meaning they will have to reach a much higher standard of structural strength.

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