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Numbers displaced by quake not clear

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 14/11/2016

While it's still too soon to know exactly how many people have been displaced across north Canterbury after Monday's devastating earthquake, the costs of rebuilding are already being calculated.

Acting Civil Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee says he hopes to have a more accurate picture by the end of the day as Earthquake Commission assessors move into the affected area.

The initial 7.5 magnitude quake, located near Hanmer Springs at a depth of 15km, struck minutes after midnight.

Almost 900 aftershocks were felt in the 24 hours that followed, including three of more than 6 magnitude.

Questions have already turned to the cost of rebuilding, with both Prime Minister John Key and Finance Minister Bill English saying the figure is likely to be in the billions.

"The combination of significant infrastructure damage in Wellington, obvious damage in Kaikoura, the roading and rail issues, I mean this is going to add up into something fairly significant," Mr English said.

"We also know that those estimates change over time. The important point about whatever the estimates are we've got the capacity to deal with them."

Mr Key said there was no sense as yet what a support package would look like.

"As we did with Christchurch we relied on people having their own insurance capability but if they don't have that then the government will potentially look to give them some support," he said.

While the EQC's National Disaster Fund is depleted following the Canterbury earthquakes, the money will be found, he said.

"They've got a government guarantee so there's no question over their ability to extend their coverage and meet all the claims," he said.

Opposition leader Andrew Little said this was not a time for "party political acrimony and bickering" and acknowledged there was a "huge job of work to do".

He has cancelled a planned trip to India and Pakistan and said he'll support the government in supplying required services and resources to areas in need.

Earlier Mr Brownlee said that getting major infrastructure like water and sewerage up and running will take "a little more time" but expects that process to be faster than the restoration of services in Christchurch following the quakes there in 2010 and 2011.

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