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Christchurch Earthquake 22 Feb.

February 25, 2011

Damage to Christchurch Cathedral (NZ Defence Force cc-by)

A devastating earthquake struck Christchurch on Tuesday at 12:51PM. I was working on campus and didn’t feel it, but others at the university and elsewhere in Dunedin did. I haven’t heard of any damage in Dunedin. The one in September was felt much more strongly here.

Although the 6.3 quake was not as strong as the 7.1 quake last September, it was much closer to Christchurch (within 10KM) and closer to the surface (5 Km under). So the damage was much more widespread and severe. There are 98 confirmed deaths so far, but officials say it could rise to more than 200 by the time they search through all the rubble (over 100 bodies are believed to be in one building). I heard today that more than 200 people are still missing, although some may have left the city or have had trouble contacting relatives. Who knows how many tourists were in the downtown area at the time? Whole buildings collapsed (see the link to photos below), including two that date from the 60s, which account for most of the fatalities so far. We don’t know if anyone who we know in Christchurch has been harmed or otherwise severely affected, but we have only been in touch with close friends. It is still hard to reach people there as the telephone networks have been affected and many still don’t have electricity, so they can’t even communicate by email.  Infrastructure has been badly affected (electricity, water, roads, etc.). Something like 60% of the city centre has been damaged. I saw shots of Littleton (the epicenter, just over the hill from Christchurch) in the news last night and they have probably lost all of their historic buildings. Many, many historic buildings in Christchurch will be beyond repair. It will be a huge rebuilding effort and I can imagine that many people will want to relocate to another part of the country. They will continue to experience aftershocks for months. More news and photos can be found on the sites listed below.

Christchurch Earthquake photos on Flickr

TV 1 News

TV 3 News

Radio New Zealand News

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