Port officials are saying that it will take at least 24 hours to assess the damage, described as ‘significant’ to wharves and other infrastructure. In the last report some port operations were continuing, although most staff had been sent home to be with their families.
Port chief executive Peter Davie was quoted as saying, “We’re at the stage of knowing we’ve got significant damage and waiting until first light to work our way through and work out how significant”. He described parts of the port as badly broken up, with wharves and paving damaged while in places walls had dropped half a metre.
According to reports coming out of New Zealand, scientists have put the epicentre of the earthquake in the middle of the harbour at Lyttelton, where earlier reports described the suburbs of Lyttelton and New Brighton as “unliveable”.
News outlets are reporting extensive devastation to Lyttelton, with eyewitnesses describing 60% of its main street having been levelled, while in New Brighton streets in some places appeared to open up and swallow several cars.
The quake struck at lunchtime, one of the busiest times for the city of Christchurch, causing extensive damage that has been described as much worse than the result of the 7.1-magnitude quake that shook the city in September last year.
At that time the port said that around 40% of its wharves were damaged as a result of the earthquake and that the estimated final cost of that damage would be between NZ$50m to NZ$200m.