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"NZ's worst disaster" as massive water outages remain

The New Zealand newspaper are packed with earthquake coverage as new estimates believe 100 died in a TV building.

THE PRESS in New Zealand is understandably packed with coverage of Tuesday’s earthquake in Christchurch, with many focussing on the ongoing efforts to locate survivors under the rubble of the city’s collapsed buildings.

Here is a selection of stories from various news outlets in Christchurch and beyond.

Christchurch quake toll 75, dozens missing (The Press)

The country’s main broadsheet’s overnight lead is that the ongoing search for survivors at the Canterbury TV building, inside which up to 100 people are thought to remain trapped, has seen firefighters enter the stricken building to try and extinguish a basement fire – amid fears that any survivors could be caught up if the fire spreads.

Diggers were clearing rubble at the back of the building, local television reported, going on to explain that the building also housed an English language school as well as the TV station.

“A large piece of the building still stands unsupported on its northern side and officials are worried it could fall,” the paper adds.

Elsewhere, the paper details how police have taken to guarding petrol tanks in the worst affected areas, amid public fears that fuel may soon run short, and efforts to stockpile as a result.

Shell has appealed to residents to avoid panic buying, and said supplies could be maintained if there was no immediate spike in demand.

Over 100 may have died in CTV building: police (Otago Daily Times)

On a similar theme to The Press’s lead, the Otago Daily Times quotes police reports suggesting that the collapsed CTV building will have taken the lives of about 100 people – after police said the collapse would have been “unsurvivable”.

The current death toll of 75 is expected to climb significantly as 300 people remain missing, and the press adds that 15 CTV staff, and a number of Japanese students attending the aforementioned school, were trapped in the rubble.

80pc of Christchurch without water (NZ Herald)

Around 80 per cent of homes in Christchurch are without a fully operational water supply at present, as the city remains in virtual lockdown following an overnight curfew that kicked in at 6:30pm local time.

Authorities had asked citizens not to flush toilets if they could help it, and requested that rainwater be collected in buckets for domestic use to conserve whatever water was still available.

Elsewhere, the NZ Herald’s owners, APN News and Media, said it would continue to publish a free-of-charge ‘emergency edition’ during the week, which would help distribute news about rescue efforts and sources of food and water.

Christchurch earthquake likely to be NZ’s worst natural disaster (NZ Herald)

New Zealand’s Civil Defence Minister, John Carter, said the declaration of a National Emergency was the first time that the measure had been invoked – reflecting the probability that the disaster would turn out to be the worst in the country’s history.

There had only been once previous occasion when a state of emergency was declared – during a 1951 trade dispute when the country’s ports, vital for its domestic economy, went into lockdown – this was the first occasion such a state had been declared for a civil defence emergency.

The worst earthquake in the country’s history before this week’s was in 1931, when a quake in Napier killed 256.

PM wants W Cup games in quake-hit city (AFP)

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A Wellington reporter for Agence France Presse reports quotes from John Key, the country’s prime minister, who suggested he wanted Rugby World Cup fixtures planned for Christchurch to proceed as planned.

The ability of New Zealand’s second largest city to host seven games, including two quarter-finals, during rugby’s showcase tournament was thrown into doubt after Tuesday’s 6.3-magnitude quake which killed at least 75 people.

Holding the games in the city, which had been hit by two earthquakes in six months, but be a major symbol of the resilience of city and country, Key believed.

Canterbury rugby head Hamish Riach said he wasn’t sure whether Christchurch would be ready to host the games, however, telling local TV that “right now it doesn’t feel like we could host very much at all”.

Pope latest in international community to send condolences (TV New Zealand)

“At this time my thoughts turn especially to the people that are being severely tested by this tragedy. Let us ask God to relieve their suffering and to support all who are involved in the rescue operations. I also ask you to join me in praying for all who have lost their lives,” he said.

The Vatican says a telegram was sent on Wednesday to Christchurch’s bishop. It said the pontiff was saddened to learn of the sudden devastation and loss of life in Christchurch and that Pope Benedict is praying for those urgently working to free those who are trapped in rubble and for blessings of strength and courage for all New Zealanders.

Among the other leaders in contact were Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, the Commonwealth of Nations, the Queen, David Cameron and the UN.

Expedia apologise for Cathedral email (The Press)

Travel website Expedia has apologised for emailing its Australian database promoting cheap holidays to New Zealand with photos of the Christchurch Cathedral this morning.

The Cathedral spire was destroyed in yesterday’s earthquake, and it is likely there are bodies buried beneath it.

"NZ's worst disaster" as massive water outages remain
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  • Waikato Times, January 24

  • New Zealand Herald, January 24

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Gavan Reilly

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