Earthquake raises sea bed, navigation unsafe

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Chinese Coast Guard
Navigation unsafe in New Zealand waters

Navigation for ships is now  unsafe in New Zealand waters following a 7.8-magnitude quake that shook the northeast of New Zealand’s South Island last year , Civil Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee said today.

The quake, which killed two persons in the tourist town of Kaikoura on Nov. 14, had raised the seabed and made nautical maps obsolete, Brownlee said in a statement.

“With actual depths now significantly less than charted depths, nautical charts are no longer accurate and safe navigation in the region has become an issue,” said Brownlee.

“The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) has sent eight hydrographers to Kaikoura to survey the area’s sea floor and map the shifts caused by the earthquake,” he said.

The results of the hydrographic survey would be to update the nautical chart of the Kaikoura Peninsula.

Landslips caused by the quake wiped out road and rail links to Kaikoura, stranding hundreds of tourists and leaving the town accessible only by sea and helicopters.

The NZDF led the relief operation, mobilizing 815 personnel, 11 aircraft and four ships to support the relief and evacuation operations.

Brownlee said the government was aiming to restore full road access by the end of this year.

Ministry of Civil Defence national recovery manager Dave Brash said excavators were on site and work has started on clearing the slips from the road.

Some rail links were open, but more than 700 sites needed work and seismic activity was continuing, Brash said in the statement.

“At the same time, diggers have removed more than 5,000 cubic meters of material from the Kaikoura harbor to deepen the channel,” he said.

A detailed design for the harbor restoration is being discussed with the operators who used it and would be agreed to in the next couple of weeks.

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