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Wellington to re-open for business tomorrow, one-in-five chance of a 'big one' this week

Monday 22nd July 2013

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New Zealand's capital city will be open for business tomorrow after a 6.5 magnitude earthquake hit the Cook Strait, while scientists say there's a one-in-five chance of a similar-size temblor this week.

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown told a media briefing today it will be up to employers to determine whether their staff should come in. Portions of the city were closed and train services suspended after a swarm of quakes off the coast near Seddon in the upper South Island that topped out with a magnitude 6.5 shake at 5.09 pm on Sunday, bigger than the devastating magnitude 6.3 quake that damaged Christchurch in February 2011.

About 35 buildings in the capital city have sustained damage, most of which was minor, though several carparking buildings are still closed until further notice, she said.

Wellington City Council doesn't "have any estimate at the moment" of the economic impact of today's closure and the earthquake damage, Wade-Brown said.

GNS Science head of department GeoNet and Geohazards Monitoring Ken Gladhill said the chance of another 6+ magnitude quake in the next 24 hours had dropped to 7 percent, and was a one-in-five chance over the next week.

The aftershock sequences were "following a pretty normal trend downwards," he said.

Greater Wellington chair Fran Wilde said normal train services will resume tomorrow, and Centreport operations will be ready to clear a vessel later today.

Wade-Brown said of the 5,482 pre-1976 buildings checked by Wellington City Council since the first of the Canterbury earthquakes, 611 were below the minimum threshold, meaning owners will have to demolish of strengthen the buildings, and 877 buildings were still to be checked.

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