Weary city starts damage checks

Inspections around the Canterbury region will continue today to see exactly how much damage has been done in the wake of yet another strong earthquake.

Members of the Christchurch City Council and Civil Defence teams will be checking buildings, roads and water systems again after yesterday's magnitude 5.7 quake.

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An engineer will be at the AMI Stadium, to look for any structural damage. Inspections will also be made at the Botanic Gardens and local cafes including the Duck Duck and Ilex establishments, which all had to be closed following the quake.

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Rockfall forced the closure of several roads in the city, including Summit Rd between Rapaki Gate and Mt Cavendish. Bridle Path and Rapaki tracks were also closed and all areas will undergo detailed inspection today.

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Earthquake Commission chief executive Ian Simpson said people who have suffered damage to their home, land or contents have three months to lodge a claim after taking care of themselves, their families and friends.

"It can take some time for the picture regarding claims to emerge as people come to terms with what's happened and had a chance to take stock of what's happened to their properties."

The Insurance Council of NZ said it was not expecting many major claims, but was expecting to hear from people and retailers who had suffered some damage.

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Chief executive Tim Grafton said the majority of the damage being reported was "low level".

"People will be concerned and a lot of people have been through quakes - and this is another. Most properties will be pretty much okay."

The severe shake was centred 15km east of the city and was felt as far north as Wellington. It was followed by a magnitude 3.5 tremor 10km northeast of the city.

As of last night, there were no reports of serious damage or injuries but a cliff had fallen in Sumner - causing big plumes of dust to cloud the area.

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Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee said the impact on residents was more likely to be psychological than physical.

"The uncertain bit is just what this does to individuals and how this shakes things up."

Prime Minister John Key said the people of Christchurch were resilient.

He was pleased no one had been seriously injured but said it was unfortunate it came so close to the five-year anniversary of the killer February 2011 earthquake.

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Dunedin geologist Andy Winneke was sailing his 6m yacht with a friend off the coast near Godley Head yesterday when the quake struck.

"We felt the vibration under the boat, which was sort of startling. It felt as if the boat had rumbled over some floating debris," Mr Winneke said.

"It was an uncanny situation when there's 50 foot [15m] of water underneath you."

The pair "simultaneously" grabbed a camera and cellphone, one taking photos of the cliff face falling into the water and the other checking with friends on land to see if they were okay.

Another yacht, sailing close to the cliff face when the quake happened, caused a moment of anxiety for Mr Winneke.

"There were a series of cliff collapses all along the peninsula. We could hear falling rock. It sort of almost appeared these guys were sailing out from it at the time. They would have been checking their pulses," he said.

• Reporting team: Kurt Bayer, Amelia Wade, Kirsty Johnston, Susan Strongman, Vaimoana Tapaleao, Olivia Carville, Jamie Morton, Ben Hill, Isaac Davison

- NZ Herald

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