Travel expert offers advice after New Zealand hit by more major tremors

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Travel expert offers advice after New Zealand hit by more major tremors

13th June 2011

An expert in holiday accident claims has offered advice to anyone planning to visit New Zealand after the city of Christchurch was rocked by another series of violent tremors - including two powerful earthquakes which injured at least ten people.

Katherine Allen, head of the Travel and International Litigation department at Fentons Solicitors LLP, said: "Around 300,000 British nationals visit New Zealand every year. In light of these recent tremors, I would encourage anyone planning to visit Christchurch to contact their travel agent, accommodation, attraction or tour provider directly to confirm their bookings before travelling and to check on any family and friends who may be in the affected area. These were powerful earthquakes which have again caused widespread destruction as well as significant damage to infrastructure."

A series of 11 tremors hit New Zealand's second city yesterday between 12:29 p.m. and 4:56 p.m., local time. A quake measuring 5.5 on the Richter scale was recorded at 1 p.m. and followed over an hour later by a second more violent quake measuring a magnitude of 6.0. The quakes - which struck at a depth of 5.6 miles, some nine miles from the beleaguered city - caused panic and prompted the evacuation of office buildings and shopping centres as well as Christchurch airport.

The tremors occurred just four months after the devastating earthquake of 22 February which killed 181 people, damaged thousands of buildings and totalled an estimated £7bn worth of recovery and reconstruction costs. That disaster was itself a powerful aftershock from an earlier earthquake which had hit the city in September last year. Quake-weary Christchurch residents have now endured thousands of tremors in the last nine months alone. Over 50,000 residents have been relocated to other parts of New Zealand and Australia and many families have decided to leave the city for good.

"Although damage and injuries were minor compared to the 22 February disaster, ten people were injured with six having to be taken to hospital," said Katherine, a partner with the firm. "Two people were rescued from a collapsed building, hundreds had their water and phone services cut and 54,000 homes have been left without power."

Schools remain closed, several bridges have been damaged due to rock-falls and eastern suburbs have been badly affected by flooding and liquid mud that has been oozing across roads from below the surface.

"Much of the centre of the city, known as the red-zone, is still sealed off and inaccessible to the public due to the precarious state of many damaged buildings from the February quake," said Katherine. "Travellers have been advised that all services outside of central Christchurch and Lyttelton, including tourism businesses, are operating as normal.

"All major highways connecting the rest of New Zealand are open although there is heavy congestion around the city and authorities are urging people to stay put to avoid hampering emergency services," added Katherine. "Christchurch airport has now reopened for international and domestic flights. Visitors can transit through the airport but I would advise they contact their airline for flight confirmations before travelling."

Read more at Sky News