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New Zealand: Job losses, aftershock stress hit New Zealand city
Source: channelnewsasia.com
Source Date: Thursday, September 09, 2010
Focus: Institution and HR Management
Country: New Zealand
Created: Sep 09, 2010

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand : The first job losses from the New Zealand earthquake were announced Thursday, as authorities turned the spotlight on how aftershocks are taking a mental toll on Christchurch residents.

Supermarket operator Foodstuffs said its store in suburban Kaiapoi was irreparably damaged in Saturday's 7.0 magnitude quake and 86 workers were being made redundant.

"We are very distressed that the damage to the supermarket has meant we are unable to re-open and we are doing everything we can to help all of those affected," Foodstuffs chief executive Steve Anderson said.

Christchurch remains in a state of emergency and economic activity in the city has ground to a halt as police and the army enforce no-go zones in areas declared unsafe due to the danger from falling debris.

No one died in the quake, although numerous residents reported close shaves.

While the estimated financial cost of New Zealand's most destructive quake is now put at NZD$4 billion (US$2.7 billion), officials said constant rumbling aftershocks were exacting a mental toll on the city of 340,000 people.

"GPs are seeing an increase in people presenting with stress and anxiety issues, gastroenteritis," the civil defence ministry said in a statement Thursday.

It said public health officials were working on "psycho-social support" for locals, who have endured around 300 aftershocks since the main quake on Saturday, including three of magnitude 4.0 or more on Thursday.

Rachel Hood said she decided to send her daughters Izra, three, and Jasmine, one, to stay with their grandmother in Wellington after a shallow 5.0 tremor hit on Wednesday morning sent frightened residents fleeing into the streets.

"I just don't want traumatised children for the rest of their lives so I'm sending them away before it get worse," she told the Dominion Post newspaper.

Police this week reported a 53 per cent rise in domestic violence since Saturday's quake, attributing it to "the stressful situation people are currently in".

However, some aspects of life in New Zealand second-largest city were returning to normal, with officials on Thursday lifting advice they had been giving for residents to boil drinking water to avoid the danger of contamination.

Bus services also resumed and education authorities said some schools would be allowed to reopen after their buildings were deemed safe. - AFP/fa

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