10,000 homes cannot be rebuilt in Christchurch, New Zealand, announced the country’s prime minister John Key, after the 22 February earthquake (map).
The treasury department said on Sunday that quake recovery would cost NZ$15bn.
New Zealand’s PM also announced a national memorial day of 18 March, with events planned for Christchurch’s Hagley Park.
At 166 people so far, the death toll is expected to rise to around 200.
After pulling 90 bodies from the Canterbury TV building, rescue workers were relieved when they found no dead in the collapsed tower of Christchurch Cathedral.
Fingerprints, DNA, dental records and other personal items like jewellery are being used to identify the victims, but it could take months to complete that painstaking process, officials say.
Experts described cases following previous disasters and accidents overseas where the wrong body was returned to the family, compounding the grief of everyone involved. In order to avoid such traumatic mistakes, the authorities in New Zealand explained that their work will be meticulous.
At a news conference Mr Key talked about the probable demolition of many heritage buildings and homes, saying that New Zealanders must “brace ourselves”.
The quake sparked the rising of silt and water, which weakened the soil. Called liquefaction, it means that some parts of the city could not be rebuilt.
The Earthquake Commission has already begun land assessments and assessing houses.
Mr Key also said that a private building supply company has also begun emergency repairs to houses as part of a contribution to quake relief.
In the meantime, cheap flights and accommodation have been offered to quake victims in the Pacific Islands territory by Fiji tourism operators.
During its monthly report, the Treasury said : “We estimate that GDP growth will be around 1.5 percentage points lower in the 2011 calendar year solely as a result of the February earthquake.”
According to Finance minister Bill English paying for the earthquake is likely to involve “a bit more borrowing in the short term” and changing spending priorities.