Christchurch schools open as refugees return home

By James Ihaka, NZPA

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Bower Ave, one hour after the Christchurch Earthquake. Photo / Supplied
Bower Ave, one hour after the Christchurch Earthquake. Photo / Supplied

Christchurch is getting ready for the return of up to 60,000 residents who fled the city after the February 22 earthquake.

It is expected that 110 schools will reopen this morning, a major reason to anticipate the return of refugees.

By the end of the week 143 schools - 88 per cent of the city's total - will be open.

National Civil Defence controller John Hamilton said authorities expected that 69 per cent of early childhood education services would also be reopened this week.

Nine learning hubs have been set up around the city for Year 1-8 students whose schools are still closed for repairs.

Mr Hamilton said the people who were planning to return would need to become familiar with the changed infrastructure and procedures, as most had left Christchurch on the day of the quake.

"Residents returning are advised to take a chemical toilet if it is offered to them, even if their home toilets seem to be working, as the sewage system still is fragile and we're not sure how it will cope if it rains."

The shortage of portable toilets in the city had been largely remedied by the arrival of another 960 from the United States on Saturday.

"Another 200 will arrive on Tuesday and both lots will be assembled and distributed to the suburbs as soon as possible."

The Government has extended the national state of emergency for another seven days and it is expected to continue for several more weeks.

Civil Defence Minister John Carter said that ensured the maximum possible co-ordination and co-operation between central and local resources.

The city is still being shaken by aftershocks, which are predicted to continue, and one scientist said there would a magnitude-four or greater aftershock every couple of weeks during the Rugby World Cup.

GNS Science geological hazard modeller Matt Gerstenberger said

Christchurch was still being rattled by roughly one magnitude-four aftershock a day, but that should drop within two weeks to one magnitude-four every three to four days.

But the probability of an earthquake of magnitude 6 or greater within the next year was roughly 6 per cent.

Christchurch has had more than 4000 aftershocks since the city's first major quake on September 4.

In numbers

60,000 residents expected to return soon.
143 schools to reopen by the end of the week.
4000 aftershocks since the initial September 4 quake.
6 per cent chance of another magnitude-6 aftershock this year.

- NZ Herald

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