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Cash offer to leave Christchurch's earthquake homes

Homeowners in Christchurch will be offered money by the government to leave the areas of the city that were worst hit by the recent earthquakes.

Christchurch was struck by a magnitude 7.1 earthquake in September and a magnitude 6.3 quake in February that killed 181 people and crippled much of New Zealand's second largest city.

The government said it would offer to pay about 5,000 people to leave and have their homes demolished, because some land was too unstable for rebuilding. The future of an additional 10,000 homes was still being assessed. It estimated the cost of moving the first 5,000 homeowners at more than £300m, even after insurance clawbacks.

The Prime Minister, John Key, said the total cost of the earthquakes amounted to more than £9.4bn – about 8 per cent of the country's GDP.