Tengrinews TV Радио Tengri FM Радио Жұлдыз FM Laws of Kazakhstan
Write us +7 (727) 388 8020 +7 (717) 254 2710
искать через Tengrinews.kz
искать через Google
искать через Yandex
USD / KZT - 331.87
EUR / KZT - 353.31
CNY / KZT - 48.25
RUB / KZT - 5.56

New Zealand offers to buy 5,000 quake-hit homes

23 june 2011, 16:51
New Zealand offered to buy 5,000 severely-damaged homes in quake-devastated Christchurch Thursday and said it was assessing whether to purchase another 10,000, AFP reports.

Prime Minister John Key said the offer related to homes on land that was now unstable due to the constant seismic pounding endured by New Zealand's second largest city in the past nine months, making rebuilding unfeasible.

"This represents the next step in the government's ongoing work to give people of greater Christchurch a clearer picture of what their future holds following a series of major earthquakes and aftershocks," he said.

Geotechnical experts had divided Christchurch into four zones -- red, orange, green and white -- following three major earthquakes since September, including a devastating February tremor that killed 181 people, he said.

Residents in the worst-affected red zone would receive a formal offer from the government to buy their homes in the next eight weeks, Key said.

He said the cost of purchasing the 5,000 homes would be up to NZ$635 million ($517 million) but also suggested the scheme could expand significantly, with the status of about 10,000 homes in the orange zone yet to be determined.

"Unfortunately we are not yet in a position to give these residents certainty," he said, adding that many homes were likely to be condemned, making them eligible for the government's offer.

The government wants the homes in the red zone abandoned because the ground on which they are built has been hit by liquefaction, which occurs when seismic tremors break the bonds between soil particles, creating a quagmire.

Christchurch suffered major damage in a 7.0-magnitude quake last September, which was exacerbated when the February 22 disaster brought down office blocks and destroyed much of Christchurch's downtown area.

Pressure from residents for government action intensified after a 6.0 jolt on June 13 caused further damage, including extensive liquefaction.

Key said the government offer would give home owners, many of whom are still paying mortgages on their ruined properties, the chance to plan their futures.

He said funding for the home purchase scheme would come from an existing NZ$5.5 billion earthquake recovery fund established by the government.

The prime minister has estimated the repair bill facing Christchurch, the largest city in the South Island and a major economic hub, could reach NZ$25 billion.

"The government remains fully committed to rebuilding Christchurch and that commitment stands firm," he said

The city's central business district has been off-limits to residents since February's 6.3 quake because the danger from falling masonry and sinkholes means it remains too dangerous to enter.

The price the government offers to wrecked properties will be based on their values before the initial quake on September 4 last year.

The offer applies only to homes that were covered by insurance, although Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee said the government believed few properties in the city were uninsured.

Many residents have expressed a desire to leave the city, which has been hit by more than 7,500 aftershocks of magnitude 3.0 or above since September, but were unable to depart because of financial commitments to their properties.

Brownlee said the government offer would allow people to "cash up and go fairly quickly".

Official data released this week showed that since the February earthquake, Christchurch's 350,000 population had declined by about 1,700 compared to the same period last year, with many people departing for Australia.

Key said the government was working as quickly as possible to clarify the status of orange zone properties.

By Neil Sands

Add comment
Most Read
Most Discussed