Services gradually being restored to Lyttelton

10:30 am on 4 March 2011

Essential services are being restored to Lyttelton and search and rescue operations are being scaled back, the port town's chief fire officer says.

The epicentre of the 6.3 earthquake on 22 February was near the town.

Power has been restored to most of Lyttelton, mains water is back on for between 60% and 70% of homes and rubbish is being collected.

Chief fire officer Mark Buckley says that although search and rescue teams are scaling back operations, officials are still carrying out checks on people and houses.

"I suppose everyone's taking the double jeopardy approach, that if the doors are knocked on twice, that's better than not being knocked on at all," he says.

Lyttelton's Civil Defence co-ordinator, Ken Maynard, says unlike in parts of Christchurch, the town has not had to deal with the problem of liquefaction.

Timeball Station may still collapse

The historic Timeball Station, which sits above the port, was severely damaged and may still collapse. Mr Maynard says the stone tower is too dangerous to approach.

He says the Timeball Station is "one of the iconic buildings in Lyttelton" and if it does collapse, its loss will be symptomatic of the whole earthquake disaster.

The tower, one of the few of its kind left in the world, had already sustained some damage from the September quake.

The Holy Trinity Anglican Church has also suffered extensive damage. Vicar Neil Struthers told Morning Report the congregation wants it rebuilt.

Port's core services working

Lyttelton Port is operating at 40% capacity. Roads and wharves were damaged but the harbour was not damaged and has been declared safe.

Port of Lyttelton chief executive Peter Davie says some ships have been turned away but others carrying essential supplies have been allowed in.

He says the port's core services are all working, and most services will be operational within a week.

Lyttelton tunnel, the town's main link to Christchurch, remains open only to emergency vehicles and the town's residents.