Police are closely monitoring several Christchurch suburbs in case of flooding.
Jumpy residents, frazzled by the death and destruction in their city and frequent aftershocks since the 6.3 quake on February 22, suffered through seven more tremors up to 4.8 in about three and a half hours on Saturday evening. Most were close to Lyttleton and at shallow and medium depths. Heavy rain set in from the south and Christchurch’s civil defence emergency management (CDEM) team warned the downpour could trigger slips or landslides on hillside areas. CDEM told residents to be “vigilant”. Operations commander Superintendent Sandra Manderson said police were keeping a close watch for potential flooding that could impact on home owners. “Should the situation become serious there are sufficient staff on hand to manage any emergency,” she said. Ms Manderson said anyone driving large vehicles or trucks should travel at slow speed in the affected areas, to prevent backwash flowing into any of the suburban houses. Spirits in the quake-ravaged city lifted on Saturday with the news that reports of 22 people feared crushed in the Christchurch Cathedral were wrong. Searchers described the moment as “surreal” when they realised there were no victims among the rubble of the cathedral at the heart of the city, despite witnesses reporting nearly two dozen were thought to be in the building when it collapsed. The cathedral’s Dean, Very Reverend Peter Beck, said he cried when he heard the news. As the official death toll from the 6.3 magnitude earthquake sits at 165, the announcement that no bodies had been found buoyed spirits. Fire Service spokesman Assistant National Commander Paul Baxter said it was an unusual situation for the search crews clearing the building because they had been told by witnesses a considerable number of people were believed buried in the remains of the spire.