Rebecca Quilliam

Rebecca Quilliam is senior reporter at the APNZ News Service office in Wellington.

Wellington earthquake: 1000 claims with EQC

The CentrePort container wharf damaged as a result of the earthquake in Wellington. Photo / Mark Mitchell
The CentrePort container wharf damaged as a result of the earthquake in Wellington. Photo / Mark Mitchell

More than 1000 claims have been lodged with the Earthquake Commission (EQC) following the swarm of quakes centred off the Seddon coast.

The claims have flooded in as shoppers and workers returned to central Wellington today for the first time since the magnitude-6.5 quake hit on Sunday.

EQC general manager customer services Bruce Emson said the claim total stood at 1050.

About two thirds related to damage in Wellington, with the remaining number coming from the Marlborough region.

"Claims received have been for mostly minor damage or damaged contents."

If required, additional staff would be brought in to deal with an influx of claims, Mr Emson said.

"There is unlikely to be any impact on processing claims from the Canterbury quakes."

There was also sufficient cover through levies, reinsurance and the Crown guarantee to provide for all valid claims, he said.

Building inspections in central Wellington continued today, as a number of buildings remained closed and 12 were cordoned off over concerns about falling debris and glass.

Mayor Celia-Wade Brown said of the nearly 2500 buildings inspected, engineers discovered about 35 with superficial damage, but there may be more problems that have yet to come to light.

The Wellington Regional Council building on Wakefield St was among those to have has suffered some damage, forcing the council to speed up its plans to relocate to new premises.

Structural engineers have indicated that while the building structure as a whole had not sustained significant damage, the stairwells were compromised and should not be used.

The council said it had brought forward its plans to move from its Wakefield St address to Shed 39 on the Wellington harbour - a move originally planned for November.

It hoped to move at least half of its 280 staff at Wakefield St to the waterfront in about two weeks, with the other half to be relocated to other offices before a full move at the end of the year.

The council said its operations including water supply, flood protection, biosecurity, parks and the harbourmaster had not been affected and continued to operate normally.

Ms Wade-Brown said there was still a fair bit of cleaning up to do in the central city, and some workers would return to find their "papers refiled on the floor".

Among the buildings to have suffered damage was the Old Public Trust building at the corner of Stout St and Lambton Quay, home to Creative New Zealand, which was understood to have suffered extensive internal damage.

A source said it had been "trashed inside", with fallen ceiling panels among the damage, leaving it unusable for some time.

Three major car parking buildings in the central city will remain closed tomorrow while they continue to be inspected for possible structural damage.

The council says Featherston St remains an issue due to the threat of falling glass or masonry, with traffic down to one lane in parts and pedestrians having to zig-zag through cordons.

The Fire Service, police and urban search and rescue workers have now been stood down or returned to normal duties.

Aftershocks continued to rumble overnight Monday after Sunday evening's earthquake, with the strongest measuring magnitude 5 striking about 1.30am.

The chance of an aftershock measuring up to 6 in magnitude in the week following the quake remained at 19 per cent.

Tertiary institutions remained partially closed today, with Victoria University's law school and Pipitea campus closed, and Whitireia Polytechnic also staying closed while engineers continue to check for structural damage.

Massey University's Wellington Campus reopened this morning.

GNS Science seismologist Ken Gledhill said yesterday the quake was a "one-in-several-decades event" and the many aftershocks still rocking the bottom of the North Island and top of the South were normal.

"This is not unusual behaviour for the Cook Strait region. It's following the pattern we would expect."

- APNZ

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