Christchurch Earthquake Levels Buildings

This quake is an aftershock fromthe major quake that occurred last year. The only problem is that it is located directly under Christchurch driving the maximum damage.  It also warns of possible additionalaftershocks though I suspect that the originating fault is now completely releasedin both directions.

Early casualties are at 67 are ofcourse far too low and will surely be in the hundreds.  The good news is that the civil defenseorganization here is fully prepared to cope and though the damage is massive itis not beyond available resources as hurricane Katrina clearly was in 2005. 

Obviously city center ismassively damaged and has been ordered evacuated.  The photos here show all that.  That it happened during lunchtime put a lotof people in the center and made a lot vulnerable.  It also placed ample manpower in place forimmediate rescue work which facilitates getting the injured out of harms way.  There is no good time for an earth quake butthis could have been both much better and much worse.

Hopefully this relieves localgeological risk for a few more centuries

New Zealand earthquake: Rescuers work through night

Many parts of Christchurchwere left in ruins after the quake

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker says more than 100 people are fearedburied in collapsed buildings in the city.

The disaster struck at a shallow depth of 5km (3.1 miles) on Tuesdaylunchtime when Christchurchwas at its busiest.

It is the South Island city's secondtremor in six months, and the country's worst natural disaster in 80 years.

Districts deluged

The mayor has declared a state of emergency and ordered the citycentre's evacuation.

 “Start Quote

We paid a very heavy price here”

John KeyPrime Minister

On a cold and wet night, emergency teams have been toiling underfloodlights to reach survivors, as relatives keep vigil outside.

Rescue teams with sniffer dogs have been fanning out across Christchurch.

A series of aftershocks, some as big as magnitude 5, have rattled thestricken city of nearly 400,000 people.

Many power and telephone lines are knocked out, while burst water mainshave deluged whole districts.

Up to 30 people were feared trapped inside the flattened Pyne GouldGuinness building, where screams have been heard from the ruins.

Students missing

Trapped under her office desk, Anne Voss told a New Zealand TV station: "Irang my kids to say goodbye. It was absolutely horrible.

"My daughter was crying and I was crying because I honestlythought that was it. You know, you want to tell them you love them, don'tyou?"

She said she could hear other people alive in the building, and hadcalled out to them.

The city's cathedral lost its spire, while a six-storey TV buildinghousing an English-language school was reduced to a smoking ruin.

A dozen Japanese students at the school have been reported missing.

Emergency shelters have been set up at the city's Hagley Park,a race course, schools and community halls.

The Red Cross has been trying to find accommodation for peoplesheltering outside in tents or under plastic sheeting.

Glacier smashed

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, who held an emergency cabinetmeeting before heading to the disaster zone, said: "We paid a very heavyprice here. We could be looking down the barrel at New Zealand's darkest day."

Eyewitness Tania Galbraith: "The whole building began to shake andit just wouldn't stop"

The military has been deployed to help the rescue effort, and thegovernment has accepted an offer of specialist help from Australia.

In the aftermath of the disaster, shocked survivors wandered streetsstrewn with debris, including shattered glass, broken computers and desks.

Roads split and cracked open as the ground beneath was liquefied by thequake.

Helicopters plucked survivors to safety from rooftops, and dumped wateron fires.

'War zone'

Bystanders used bare hands to try to free survivors trapped underdebris.

And Tuesday's tremor in Christchurchis almost certainly related to the much more energetic event that hit theregion last September.

The critical difference on this occasion is the ground broke almostdirectly under the country's second city, and at shallow depth, 5km (3 miles)below the surface.

Contrast this with September's magnitude 7 quake: its epicentreoccurred some 40km west of the city and at a depth of 10km, and it continued torupture mainly away from the major built-up areas.

New Zealand lies on the notorious Ring of Fire, the line of frequentquakes and volcanic eruptions that circles virtually the entire Pacific rim.

The country straddles the boundary between two tectonic plates: thePacific and Indo-Australian plates.

On South Island, the location of thelatest quake, the plates rub past each other horizontally.

Many injured people were carried out on blood-soaked stretchers or inthe arms of shocked workmates and strangers.

Some escaped on ropes lowered from office towers. Others managed tocrawl out of the rubble.

One Christchurch resident, Jaydn Katene,told the New ZealandHerald: "We've had friends in town call us and say there are lots of deadbodies outside shops just lying there just covered in bricks."

Police said that the dead included people on two buses which werecrushed by falling buildings.

John Gurr, a camera technician, told Reuters news agency the area was"like a war zone".

'Utterly shocked'

The quake caused some 30m tons of ice to shear away from New Zealand'sbiggest glacier.

Witnesses say massive icebergs formed when the Tasman Glacier inAoraki/Mount Cook National Park broke, creating huge waves.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, who is also New Zealand's head of state,said in a statement she had been "utterly shocked" by the news.

"My thoughts are with all those who have been affected by thisdreadful event," the statement said.

The damage is thought to be far worse than after the 7.1-magnitudequake on 4 September, which left two people seriously injured but no fatalities.

The epicentre of that quake, which occurred in the middle of the night,was further away from the city and deeper underground.

New Zealand experiences more than 14,000 earthquakes a year, of whichonly around 20 have a magnitude in excess of 5.0.

The last fatal earthquake was in 1968, when a 7.1-magnitude tremorkilled three people on the South Island'swestern coast.

Tuesday's was the country's worst natural disaster since a 1931 quakein the Hawke's Bay on the North Island which killed 256people.

UK sends rescue team to New Zealandquake zone
(AFP) – 4 hours ago

LONDON — Britain has dispatched a search and rescue mission to NewZealand, Prime Minister David Cameron said on Tuesday, to help find survivorsof a powerful earthquake that has killed at least 65 people in the second cityof Christchurch.

Voicing his "deepest sympathies and condolences" to NewZealand, Cameron said the UK "stood ready" to provide further help atthis "dark and difficult time".

"There are many people in Britainwith ties of friendship or family to New Zealand,"said Cameron, speaking to British journalists travelling with him in Kuwait.

"I have been in touch with my good friend, prime minister JohnKey, and he knows that Britainstands ready to provide whatever assistance is required in support of the localemergency services.

"The people of New Zealand have been hit by a devastatingearthquake, not once, but twice in a matter of months, and I want to paytribute to their resilience."

A 7.0-magnitude quake hit Christchurchsix months ago but miraculously claimed no victims.

Cameron said Britain's high commissioner in New Zealand was on her wayto Christchurch, along with extra consular staff.

Queen Elizabeth II, who is also New Zealand's head of state, saidearlier on Tuesday that she was "utterly shocked" by the news of the6.3-magnitude quake, which struck city streets at midday, crushing buildingsand cars and leaving hundreds trapped.

"I have been utterly shocked by the news of another earthquake in Christchurch," shewrote in a message to Key.

"Please convey my deep sympathy to the families and friends ofthose who have been killed; my thoughts are with all those who have beenaffected by this dreadful event.

"My thoughts are also with the emergency services and everyone whois assisting in the rescue efforts."

Key said New Zealandcould be witnessing its "darkest day" after the quake, which was thecountry's deadliest tremor in 80 years.

The Foreign Office told AFP it had not received news of any Britishcasualties. Around 288,100 British nationals visit New Zealand each year, according to Statistics New Zealand.

Britons in New Zealandcan telephone the British High Commission on 04 924 2898 for assistance, or theGlobal Response Centre in the UKon 0044 207 008 1500.

The New Zealand HighCommission in London said New Zealanders in Britainwho were worried about friends and family should monitor government websitesand media reports and to try to make direct contact with loved ones.

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