New Zealand earthquake kills 65 in Christchurch

22 February 2011 11:03  [Source: ICIS news]

SINGAPORE (ICIS)--A strong earthquake has struck Christchurch, on New Zealand's South Island, killing at least 65 people and causing considerable damage to buildings in the city's central business district, according to an official statement released on Tuesday.

The 6.3-magnitude earthquake hit Christchurch at 12:51 hours local time on Tuesday (23:51 GMT) at a depth of 5km, a statement from New Zealand's Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management said.

There have been reports of widespread building collapse in the city's central area, the statement said, adding that the earthquake was felt widely across the South Island.

“There are 65 confirmed fatalities and numerous reports of injuries. This figure is likely to rise,” it said.

Aftershocks were likely to continue and this could lead to further building damage or collapse, the statement added.

“Rescue work is likely to take days to complete,” it said.

Major chemicals operations in New Zealand were not expected to be affected by the earthquake.

Canada-based Methanex’s 90,000 tonne/year methanol plant in Motonui and its 530,000 tonne/year methanol plant in Waitara are both located on the country’s North Island.

Fertilizer maker Ballance Agri-Nutrients’ plant operations are also located on the North Island.

Ballance Agri-Nutrients currently operates a 145,000 tonne/year ammonia plant and a 260,000 tonne/year urea facility at Kapuni.

Evonik Industries’ 19,000 tonne/year hydrogen peroxide plant is also located on the North Island, at Morrinsville.

Staff at the New Zealand offices of Methanex, Ballance Agri-Nutrients and Evonik Industries were not immediately available for comment.

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By: Nurluqman Suratman

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