Tracking today's events as they happen on day five of the Christchurch earthquake disaster. 6.57pm Thanks for following our latest updates coverage today on day five of the Christchurch earthquake disaster. We'll do it all again tomorrow. Cheers. 6.07pm The blanket boil water notice has been lifted across Selwyn District, with the exception of Malvern Hills rural water supply. Water from private bores and wells used for drinking should still be boiled until it has been tested and verified safe. Contact the council if you need your bore or well to be tested. There is no charge for this service. Southbridge Primary School will be opening tomorrow (Thursday). All other schools will remain closed within the district until further notice. 5.57pm Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says many of Christchurch's unemployed will be able to help with the earthquake cleanup. "We've got 5000 approximately on the unemployment benefit at the moment in the Christchurch region. Of them, from a database search 1000 have ticked the box having skills in construction and building and 700 have ticked the box of having experience with machinery," Ms Bennett told Radio New Zealand. 5.55pm Newstalk ZB has clarified an item about Jim Anderton, which aired on Sunday and was linked to by nzherald.co.nz. The station spoke to Jim Anderton about a comment he made saying it would take an earthquake for him to lose the election. It has clarified that Mr Anderton was talking about his departure from the Labour Party in 1989 - not the current mayoral election. Mr Anderton is standing for mayor Christchurch in the 2010 local body elections. 5.52pm Thirty-four councillors have arrived in Christchurch today to help victims with the psychological impact of the disaster. The extra councillors will join 50 victim support staff already helping those in need. Call 0800 RELATE to arrange a time to see a councillor, or to have one come to your home. 5.50pm Scientists are installing miniature quake recorders the size of cigarette packets in Christchurch homes to record aftershocks. It is the first time the instruments, supplied by Stanford University, have been used in New Zealand. Up to 200 miniature seismometers would collect crucial information about the strength of aftershocks, said GNS Science spokeswoman Hannah Brackley. The sensors, called Quake-Catchers, are connected to computers and will send information to a data centre when an aftershock strikes. Dr Brackley said the data would be of "international significance" and could help mitigate the impact of future quakes. 5.45pm The Black Seeds have postponed their Christchurch show scheduled for Saturday. With no guarantees of reliable power and water, plus the threat of further aftershocks, the band said it was unwise to go ahead. A new date of October 30 has been set and will take place at the same venue - The Bedford - which has not been affected by the quakes and is structurally sound. All tickets will be transferable to the new date, or anyone wanting a refund can contact the ticketing outlets. 5.43pm Civil Defence Minister John Carter is warning that the demand for places at welfare centres is likely to swell over the coming days. Mr Carter says some displaced by the quake may be staying with friends and family who will not be able to house them for a lengthy period. Mr Carter says it is likely more centres will need to open. 5.36pm The Port of Lyttelton is fully operational after today's 5.1 magnitude aftershock. Chief executive Peter Davie says equipment was checked after the tremor and it is all still working. Mr Davie says even though some workers have lost homes they are still coming to work to provide Christchurch with the goods it needs. 5.30pm All 678 buildings in the Christchurch CBD have been assessed. Sixty-nine percent have been assessed as safe and others rated as either safe only for limited access or unsafe. The central business district of Kaiapoi is still being assessed with approximately 22 buildings still deemed too dangerous to enter. Out of the 1150 homes accessed, 50 have been deemed unsafe for habitation and will be condemned or require considerable repairs. The Waimakariri district council is allowing business owners and those involved in the cleanup into parts of the Kaiapoi CBD until 7pm tonight. Demolitions are underway for some critical inner-city buildings. 5.20pm Rock falls have forced the closure of Sumner Rd, Lyttelton, from Oxford St to Summit Rd. The Christchurch Star reports access is for essential traffic only. 5.11pm More than 200 homes in Kaiapoi have been affected by the Canterbury earthquake. That's one fifth of the residential properties so far assessed for structural or sanitary safety. Waimakariri District Mayor Ron Keating says access is restricted to 155 homes and 50 are considered unsafe. There are 15 teams on the ground investigating the safety of buildings in the town and assessors from other councils have come to the district to help out. It's hoped another 800 properties will be assessed by Friday. But Kaiapoi locals are getting a boost by the Canterbury and Crusaders teams who are lending a hand in the quake clean-up. Several team members and staff, including coaches Rob Penney and Todd Blackadder and chief executive Hamish Riach, are in the area helping out. 5.05pm All Telecom and Gen-i buildings in Christchurch will remain closed tomorrow. 4.55pm Christchurch court buildings escaped today's aftershocks unscathed, allowing all essential proceedings to continue. All new arrest and bail applications would be processed as normal tomorrow, Ministry of Justice media adviser Steve Corbett said. Traffic defended hearings and Disputes and Tenancy Tribunal hearings scheduled for today were postponed, along with all jury trials. Rangiora Court list proceedings have been postponed until Monday. 4.50pm A total of 284 aftershocks have been felt by the Christchurch region since Saturday's major quake. Civil Defence Minister John Carter revealed the number in Parliament while updating MPs on the emergency operation. Six of those have been over magnitude 5.3. The most recent aftershock took place at 4.42pm. 4.40pm The last remaining highway in Canterbury closed by earthquake damage is likely to re-open later this week. A decision on re-opening State Highway 74, one of the main routes into the Port of Lyttelton, will be made at midday tomorrow. In the meantime a detour using local roads is available for light vehicles, and all heavy commercial vehicles travelling to the Port of Lyttelton need to detour via SH1 Johns Rd to SH73 Yaldhurst Rd and Brougham St. The Chaney's Road on-ramp on to State Highway 1 north of Christchurch could re-open before the end of the week. State Highway 77 in Mid Canterbury is open with a two kilometre signposted detour from Glentunnel to Glenroy, where there is substantial subsidence in the road. This detour will remain in place for some time. 4.25pm Christchurch City Council is to give a month's grace to residents due to pay their rates by next week. The rating area, which includes many of the most badly affected properties in this week's earthquake, will have received their invoices approximately three weeks ago and are due to pay their bills by September 15. However, the council is extending the due date for these people to October 15. It is also considering other relief for property owners. For further information, please refer to the council website, email email@example.com or contact the Christchurch City Council call centre on 941 8999. 4.15pm Habitat for Humanity is calling for interest from suitable volunteers to help with repairs in Christchurch. Register your interest online. 3.50pm A Facebook group has been created to help those affected by the earthquake, and for others to offer assistance. 3.40pm Scaffolding company Instant Access is looking for help transporting scaffold supplies and staff to Christchurch from Auckland and Wellington. If you can assist, email Jacqui here. 3.33pm Relationship Services Whakawhanaungatanga is offering free counselling support, funded by the Government. Counselling is available at the Christchurch office (Level 5, CTV Building, 249 Madras St) on both an appointment and walk-in basis. Counsellors will also be available at the Emergency Welfare Centres on a walk-in basis. For appointments or telephone support, ring Relationship Services Whakawhanaungatanga on 03 366 8804 or 0800 RELATE (0800 735 283). 3.29pm Canterbury residents whose cars have been damaged by the quake are being told to contact their vehicle insurance company company, not the Earthquake Commission. The Commission covers damage to your home and contents - but not your vehicle. AA Insurance says it's had only a slight increase in claims due to the quake, but believes a large number of vehicles has been damaged - it's just that people haven't contacted them yet. Most of the claims it has received so far are for very minor damage from falling bricks, or dents and scratches. 3.21pm Canterbury has been hit by another aftershock measuring 3.1 on the Richter scale. The quake struck 5km out of Christchurch at 3pm and had a focal depth of 11km. Canterbury has received 270 aftershocks or magnitude 3 or above so far since Saturday's earthquake, according to GNS Science. However, GNS seismologist Brian Ferris said people would have felt about 150 of those aftershocks. 3.19pm A visit to the outlying areas of Christchurch has reinforced to Prime Minister John Key the severity of Saturday's earthquake. Mr Key, along with other government ministers, were taken to the hard-hit rural areas outside Christchurch, including Kaiapoi and Selwyn, where they were shown houses which had crumbled or been ripped from their foundations, as well as extensive damage to farms. Speaking to the media outside a devastated church in Hororata, 56km west of Christchurch, Mr Key said the extent of the destruction throughout the region was clear. "We always knew things were bad, but I think it shows you how big the rebuild job will be and also what the aftershocks are doing." 3.16pm A strong smell of sulphur spreading across Christchurch's eastern suburbs is unlikely to be gas, Civil Defence says. New Brighton resident David Shone told WeatherWatch that people noticed the smell after Saturday's devastating 7.1 magnitude quake, saying it smelt similar to Rotorua. The smell was today investigated by the Fire Service and Environment Canterbury's hazardous substance team. "At this point, there is no indication that the smell should be of concern to residents. It does not appear to be a gas leak," Canterbury Civil Defence emergency management group said. 3.12pm Another large after shock has hit Canterbury, this time measuring 4.3 on the Richter scale. The quake struck at 2.49pm, about 30km south-east of Darfield. It had a focal depth of 9km. The quake has been reported as "strongly felt" in Christchurch, according to GNS Science. 2.59pm Care for elderly Christchurch residents affected by the earthquake will be provided at Princess Margaret Hospital. The District Health Board is setting up a special respite ward. 2.46pm All power has been restored to people who lost supply due to the 7.49am aftershock this morning, says Orion. The focus was now on getting power to all customers by the end of this week, a spokesman said. "We estimate that the number without power is now down to several hundred", he said. Anyone without power now should call 03-3639898. 2.40pm The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra (NZSO) is hoping to bring some relief from the stress of the aftershocks for Christchurch residents by playing a free show at the Town Hall next week. "Many among the orchestra have family and friends caught up in the devastating consequences of the earthquake. This is our way of showing our support for the Christchurch community," NZSO chief executive Peter Walls said. (NZPA) 2.30pm A nice follow-up to the story that did the rounds on the weekend about the Christchurch dairy owner who refused to take money for milk and batteries on the morning of the big quake. 2.15pm Reports of sulphur smells in parts of Christchurch don't appear to be a gas leak, says Environment Canterbury (EC). These have been investigated by the Fire Service and Environment Canterbury's Hazardous Substance team. There's no indication that the smell should be of concern to residents, an EC spokeswoman said. 1.58pm Another aftershock measuring 4.1 on the Richter scale hit Canterbury at 1.41pm. It was centred 20km south-west of Darfield at a depth of 5km, GeoNet reported. 1.54pm The Mayoral Fund has been amalgamated into the New Zealand Red Cross' appeal for donations. Canterbury mayors and Red Cross CEO John Ware have pledged that 100 per cent of all donations will go to the Canterbury Earthquake Appeal and be spent on people affected by the earthquake. To make a donation, go to the New Zealand Red Cross. 1.52pm Actress Milla Jovovich (The 5th Element, Resident Evil) has joined the list of celebs who have tweeted that her prayers are with the people of Christchurch at this time. 1.45pm All 678 buildings in the central business district have now been checked by Civil Defence staff, with 69 per cent being assessed as safe. Others have been rated safe for limited access and unsafe. In Kaiapoi, 22 buildings have been declared unsafe to enter and some have been demolished. 1.34pm There's a new potential hazard in Avonside. Contractors have told Newstalk ZB power poles have sunk lower into the ground meaning power lines are hanging lower than normal. They're worried high vehicles driving along the road may hit them. 1.25pm Canterbury Museum may re-open to the public next week after an examination found no structural damage. However the museum, which opened in 1870, will be re-assessed following today's aftershocks. Earthquake strengthening was carried out on the building in the 1990s. At this stage only minimal damage has occurred to the collections. 12.40pm No "substantial" damage had been inflicted by the hefty aftershocks that hit the Christchurch area this morning, according to the region's Civil Defence director. Aftershocks of up to magnitude 5.4 were recorded steadily though the morning, stretching the already frazzled nerves of residents and relief workers. Civil Defence Director, John Hamilton said today many aftershocks have occurred since the magnitude 7.1 earthquake at 4.35am on Saturday and are expected to continue for the next week or more. Some inspected buildings will require re-assessment but an initial check showed no major damage caused today. 12.10pm A strong smell of sulphur has been noticed in Christchurch's eastern suburbs since Saturday's earthquake, according to WeatherWatch. New Brighton resident David Shone told WeatherWatch that several people were noting the smell, saying that it was reminiscent of Rotorua. (NZPA) 11.55am The Christchurch Star, a sister paper for the New Zealand Herald, is compiling "stories of the quake" for citizens to tell their tales of coping in an earthquake-stricken city. To tell your story email Philippa Williams. The Star website is right up-to-date with the latest local news from the scene of the disaster, such as this story about a Linwood family's experience in a temporary welfare shelter. 11.50am The Lyttelton Tunnel has reopened. The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) closed the tunnel after this morning's big magnitude 5.1 aftershock. The tunnel has now been thoroughly checked and NZTA Canterbury manager Peter Connors said while there is superficial damage, it's safe to use. 11.25am Canterbury University has decided to delay its progressive recall of staff by 24 hours to allow confirmation of building status. The university was badly damaged during Saturday's 7.1 quake. 11.14am The Government has set aside $2.4 million for trauma counselling for Christchurch earthquake victims, Social Welfare Minister Paula Bennett said today. She says 34 counsellors from across New Zealand would head to the quake-stricken city today. 11.12am The state of emergency in Christchurch has been extended a further seven days. Civil Defence were due to lift the state at midday today, but they have decided the city is not yet safe. 11.05am Civil Defence is warning people in Christchurch not to use elevators. 10.50am If the rugby test in Hong Kong between the All Blacks and the Wallabies later this year really is in doubt, why not stage it in New Zealand with all proceeds (incl TV rights) going to Christchurch quake victims? someone has suggested this morning. Good call! 10.40am Passenger rail services in Canterbury have been delayed ahead of railway line checks this morning. KiwiRail spokesman Kevin Ramshaw said trains were stopped after this morning's aftershocks. The Picton-bound TranzCoastal service, which had left Christchurch before the aftershock, stopped just north of Rangiora and again some minutes later by a further aftershock. It has been cleared to move but will be late arriving in Picton. The Greymouth-bound TranzAlpine was scheduled to leave Christchurch at 8.15am but passengers have been put on buses. Mr Ramshaw said freight services are unlikely to be affected. 10.34am (Yet) another aftershock has hit Canterbury, this time 10km south-east of Christchurch. The quake struck at 9.39am, measured 4.0 on the Richter scale and had a focal depth of 8km. 10.32am Telecom NZ has made 13 wi-fi hotspots free around Christchurch. 10.30am If you want the total picture on nzherald's comprehensive earthquake coverage since early Saturday morning, visit our Christchurch Earthquake special feature. 10.25am Christchurch Hospital has cancelled all outpatient clinic appointments today because it says people are not keen on leaving their homes after this morning's aftershocks. Hospital staff say they are trying to contact affected patients and the situation would be reviewed later today. (NZPA) 10.16am Thoughts to our colleagues in the newsroom of the Christchurch Press who have been evacuated and are setting up a make-shift newsroom. 10.15am This natural disaster has seen social networking site Twitter come of age in this country as a medium for relaying vital information with immediacy. One user has compiled a page of First Tweets after the Earthquake. "It's all about sharing." 10.01am Another aftershock measuring 3.5 on the Richter scale has hit Canterbury. The quake struck at 9.37am, 20km south-east of Darfield and had a focal depth of 15km. 10am Cellphone users in Canterbury should try to avoid sending video or images, says Telecom's Mark Watts. There have been a few minor glitches with cell towers switching to battery back-up power following larger aftershocks, but no major outages since the weekend. "It isn't having any significant effect on the network," he said, but warned that people should "stick to voice and text, keep it brief and keep it reasonable." Payphones in the area are still free for mobile, local and national calls, he said. 9.56am Here's nzherald's compilation of Emergency Contacts. 9.50am The Lyttelton Tunnel has been closed so safety checks can be carried out following this morning's magnitude 5.1 aftershock. It is likely to be later this morning before an initial assessment of any damage is available, says New Zealand Transport Agency's Canterbury manager Peter Connors. He said a detour to Lyttelton - through Sumner and Evans Pass - is open.
The northern entrance to the Lyttelton Tunnel.
9.45am Radio station Plains FM has been evacuated, and will remain closed until they get the all clear. "Some regularly scheduled programmes may not air today." 9.40am An open source online map has been set up to help Cantabrians find help nearest to them. The Google map was set up by Dave Knight and features everything from water supplies to portaloos and road closures. Mr Knight has appealed to the people of Canterbury to add information to the map. So far the map has had over 6000 views. One user called Susan posted the message: "The more people who can participate and collaborate, the better the flow of information back to ultimately Civil Defence. And all within a web browser editing environment, awesome." 9.26am Another big aftershock, measuring 4.4 on the Richter scale, has hit near Rolleston. The quake struck at 9.01am and had a focal depth of 9km, according to the GNS website. 9.25am Christchurch mayor Bob Parker describes the most recent quake (5.1 at 7.50am) as a devastatingly vicious blow. Mr Parker says people should avoid travelling and stay home with family. He says many traffic lights are out and there are some road blocks. He says the Civil Defence headquarters in the city had to be evacuated, while the building's structure is checked. Staff have been given time to call and make sure their families are OK. 9.05am Tweet from singer Natasha Bedingfield (Unwritten, Say It Again), in London: "Thoughts and prayers to everyone in Christchurch New Zealand. My whanau. Heard about the earthquake. Stay strong." Bedingfield has NZ-born parents. 9.02am WORTH A LOOK: This dynamic map by Paul Nicholls shows the locations and intensity of all the aftershocks in Canterbury since Saturday's first earthquake. 8.50am Queen Elizabeth II has been in contact with Prime Minister John Key to pass on her support for quake-stricken Cantabrians. A spokesperson from Buckingham Palace said: "The Queen has today asked the New Zealand Prime Minister to send her good wishes to those affected by and helping with the aftermath of Saturday's earthquake in Christchurch." 8.45am Another aftershock has rattled Canterbury only 600 metres west of where this morning's 5.1 hit. The magnitude 3.8 quake hit at 8.15am and had a focal depth of 9km. Meanwhile GNS shaking map of this morning's large 5.1 aftershock has attracted over 200 reports since it went live about 30 minutes ago. The 5.1 aftershock has been reported as "slightly damaging" by 28 people. 8.30am To meet spiritual needs, the Rev Bosco Peters has a blog, Liturgy. In it he notes, "St John's Church, Hororata, near the epicentre of the earthquake, is perhaps the worst-damaged church building. In the central city, St John the Baptist, Latimer Square, has had damage to its bell tower. St Luke's in the City has lost brick from a number of its window peaks. Other churches further out have also been affected. The Anglican and Catholic Cathedrals appear to have survived extremely well. Christ's College has come through very well - past work strengthening the buildings has been remarkably successful. The chapel appears unscathed." 8.19am A large aftershock has rocked Christchurch this morning, measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale. The quake struck at 7.49am and had a shallow depth of 6km. It struck 10km north-west of Diamond Harbour and was widely felt through-out Christchurch. 8.10am Prime Minister John Key and a delegation of senior ministers are touring around some of the earthquake's worst-hit areas of rural Canterbury this morning. Several vehicles carrying the ministers are being followed by a convoy of about a dozen media vehicles, which left from Christchurch about 6.30 this morning and has travelled firstly to the township of Kaiapoi, where residential streets are cracked and covered in mud and silt. 8.05am Organisers of the Christchurch Writers Festival have cancelled the show due to Saturday's massive earthquake. All tickets for the festival, due to be held at the Christchurch Town Hall from tomorrow to Sunday, would be refunded, says Book Festival Trust chairman Brian Phillips. 7.55am The region was rocked by a further five aftershocks in the early hours of this morning, the largest of which was 4.6 on the Richter scale at 12.41am. It was followed by a 3.7 quake at 3.47am, a 4.5 at 3.59am, another 3.7 at 6.09am and a 3.5 just fifteen minutes later. All the quakes had an epicentre within 30km of Darfield and had a focal depth of 15km or less. 7.40am Here's a reminder of a couple of photo galleries focusing on the earthquake. One on Flickr and this collection. 7.25am The Earthquake Commission says the first team of overseas assessors arrived last night from Australia, reports Newstalk ZB. Spokesman Lance Dixon says around 20 of them will begin inspecting buildings in Christchurch today. He says the team on the ground will build up as the week goes on to around 120 people. 7.00am So what's happening re schools today? Education Minister Anne Tolley says because of the aftershocks, all schools and early childhood centres in Christchurch, Selwyn and Waimakariri districts would be closed for the rest of the week. However last night Civil Defence said some Christchurch schools may open by tomorrow. Boards of Trustees must consider the safety of the schools when deciding whether to reopen. It looks like the situation is quite fluid.