Published March 06, 2011
| Associated Press
WELLINGTON, New Zealand -- The New Zealand government forecasts that two recent earthquakes in the country's second-largest city will almost halve the nation's economic growth this year.
The government's Treasury estimated Sunday that a Feb. 22 earthquake that killed at least 166 people in Christchurch and another quake that struck the city in September will slow economic growth by 1.5 percentage points in 2011, to 2 percent. The economy is expected to gather pace again in 2012 on the back of reconstruction work.
Meanwhile, police cordons around Christchurch's central business district, which was devastated by last month's quake, were relaxed for the first time Sunday, allowing businesspeople and residents to salvage their valuables.