Today Christchurch was shaken by the second biggest earthquake (a 6.3 Richter) after the one in September last year, but potentially its worst in that its epicentre was only 10 kilometers from the City-it was also shallower and the effects were far more devastating with widespread damage in the City. Unlike the September 2010 Earthquake there have been at least 65 confirmed dead so far and many iconic landmarks such as the Christchurch cathedral suffering damage.
Prime Minister John Key has called it potentially “New Zealand’s darkest day”.
I was in a supermarket and struggled to get out of the building so pronounced was the earth movement, which continued outside in the car market as I felt my station wagon moving back and forth. Within minutes shoppers and staff had been evacuated from the building.
As I left for home the roads were rapidly filling with traffic and it was obvious most if not all shops and businesses were evacuating their buildings and shutting down. The University of Canterbury advised its students (who had only just returned to campus studies) to leave and meet on the sports fields, as did many schools.
For the next two hours while I tried to contact family there was no power supply in our area and no phones and cell phone coverage was down. We managed to hear what was going on in the outside world by using an emergency wind-up radio-cum-torch which we had purchased after the last major earthquake. I noticed further “liquefaction” and flooding on some streets, and more damage to already damaged shopfronts. We thank God that again our area was pretty much spared major destruction and even though there are still aftershocks I am reminded again of the power of prayer in the midst of tragedy. Some of us have been expecting a second big quake for some time now and although Cantabrians are a pretty tough bunch many seem now to be dropping the usual “staunch” attitude and visibly showing their emotions at this latest disaster.
This is of course the worst news for many businesses struggling to get back on their feet after the last earthquake but it has been heartwarming to hear messages of support from friends overseas and to see that students and some of our churches are again rising to the challenge and hitting the streets to volunteer and assist those in need.
It has been a surreal experience. Even now as I write this there has been yet another aftershock and my wooden house feels more like a ship at sea!. Rain has also started to fall so one’s heart goes out to rescuers and those needing rescue tonight.
The emergency phone number for people worried about missing family or friends following is 0800 779 997.
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A link to other photos we took of the quake damage within one mile of our house today can be seen HERE.