Earthquake looters: 'They're complete lowlifes'

Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Gerry Brownlee said he is disgusted with the people who have looted earthquake victims' homes and a train.

"I hope they find the people who've done it. They're complete lowlifes. We have a range of punishments available in the courts if they're before them. And we hope the courts will see this is at the more egregious end of any particular burglary or any incident and sentence them accordingly."

Brownlee said clearing the Inland Rd remains a challenging task but it is likely to be open for limited use in the middle of next week, although this is weather dependent.

"There was bad weather towards the end of the week and that has caused more slippage."

Chemical toilets have been arriving in Kaikoura to help manage the broken sewerage problem. Brownlee said Environment Canterbury arrived today to work out what assistance needs to come from Canterbury to get the town's sewerage as connected as possible.

"When you're dealing with stuff that's below ground you've got a longer time to analyse exactly what it is."

Brownlee said the government will look at supporting businesses with more than 20 employees. The initial package was used as it was a readily available system from the Christchurch earthquake.

"It's just recognising there are a lot of small businesses in Kaikoura that are dependent on foot traffic.

"We're not walking away just at the moment [from big businesses]."

An assessment on SH1's future has started, Brownlee said. They will consider the effect of roadworks on local fisheries when making a decision about what to do with the highway.

Most of the international navy ships are leaving today or tomorrow but the New Zealand vessels will be here as long as they're useful. Brownlee went on board the navy ships today to thank the captains and crews who helped out.

"The surge of people into Kaikoura has been fantastic.

"When the chips are down you need your friends and they [international ships] have come down here at a time when they could have been on shore leave in Auckland and I really deeply appreciate it."

- NZ Herald

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