Counting the cost of the big shake

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Parliament has closed until next month as the country deals with the devastating Christchurch quake. 

“Yesterday was indeed one of New Zealand’s darkest days,” Queenstown MP and Deputy Prime Minister Bill English says. 

“It is hard to believe this Parliament is again assembling to mark another tragedy.” 

Parliament has adjourned until March 8. 

New Zealand “can handle” the economic effects of the Christchurch quake says English, who is also the country’s finance minister. 

He adds the Government was able to absorb the $6 to $8 billion cost of the earthquake last September, and he is confident the same will apply to yesterday’s shake – with most costs met by the Earthquake Commission and off-shore reinsurance companies. 

Despite the rising death toll – confirmed at 75 with 300 hundred still missing according to TVNZ – there are glimmers of hope for people unaccounted for. 

A woman has been rescued alive from the demolished PGC building after being trapped for 25 hours. 

Another building casualty could be the iconic Hotel Grand Chancellor on Cashel Street – Christchurch’s tallest building – which is showing signs of collapse. 

Police have blocked off roads around the 26-storey building as a precaution.