kiwiana: (Music: playing cello in the grass)
Maria ([personal profile] kiwiana) wrote2010-09-04 04:50 pm

September 4, 2010 Earthquake: Canterbury, New Zealand

First of all, I want to thank everyone who sent messages via LiveJournal, Twitter, Facebook, AllPoetry, AIM, Skype, email and text message. The fact that so many of you cared enough to get in touch is heartwarming, and I appreciate everyone's well-wishes.

For those who are sitting there going, "Who? What? What's she on about now?" - this morning at 4.35am local time, New Zealand was hit by an earthquake measuring 7.1 on the Richter scale. (It was originally reported at 7.4, but was later downgraded). The quake was centralised 30 kilometres (18 miles) west of Christchurch, which is where I live and is also the largest city in the South Island of New Zealand.

For context, the Haiti earthquake in January was 7.0.

There has been one casualty reported so far - someone who suffered a heart attack during the earthquake. There have also been two people hospitalised due to serious injury: one man who suffered extensive glass cuts and was taken to the Emergency Department, while another man is in ICU after his chimney toppled on top of him. However, search and rescue teams are still scouring the rubble, especially in the Central Business District, and it is still to early to be sure that there are no more casualties. Because of the amount of damage to buildings in the CBD, there is still a risk that somebody could be found trapped.

There are four Urban Search and Rescue Teams in New Zealand - two of which are being flown in on airforce planes from Auckland and Palmerston North to Christchurch today. The teams will include dogs that could search for people stuck in rubble.

The Christchurch Central Business District has a strong residential contingent as well as the industrial and business buildings, which means that residents have had to be evacuated from their homes while workers attempt to clear the rubble.

Many parts of Christchurch are still without power, but we have been told that 90% of the city should have power back by nightfall.

Water and sewage has been severely affected. Some areas are still without water, and all residents are being advised to conserve water wherever possible - some water supplies have been confirmed to be contaminated, and people are being advised not to drink water unless it has been boiled first. There are also concerns that the sewerage system may be damaged.

The airport was closed until 1.30pm this afternoon, and damage has been reported to several roads throughout Christchurch.

As I'm writing this, there is live footage coming through from a building which is on fire - it is believed that this is the result of the power coming back on when a gas line had broken in the building. A lack of water pressure is making it difficult for firefighters to contain the blaze.

The Salvation Army has launched an appeal for funds to strengthen its response to the situation: to donate to the Salvation Army Canterbury Earthquake Appeal, phone 0800530000. Alternatively, you can donate online here.

Aftershocks have been felt by Canterbury residents on average every ten minutes since the main earthquake. These have ranged from 3.0-5.1 on the Richter scale, but advice is to prepare for a possible aftershock that could register over 6.0 in the next 48 hours.

Despite New Zealand being situated directly over a fault line, this earthquake is the most damaging we have had since the Hawke's Bay Earthquake, which hit in 1931 and measured 7.8 on the Richter scale.

A severe wind warning has been issued for Canterbury: gale-force winds of up to 130 kilometres (81 miles) per hour are expected to hit tomorrow, but they should die down by 6am Monday. These could prove dangerous for already weakened infrastructure.

The Guardian has a series of photographs from the Central Business District here. I am going to try and get out tomorrow and take some pictures of my own, if I'm able to.

I will be updating as required and will try to keep on top of any developments as well as I can.

Again, thank you so much for your well-wishes and support, and please feel free to link this post anywhere you feel is appropriate if you know anyone who wants to keep abreast of these events.

As always, I can be contacted at kiwiana@livejournal.com.

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