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Earthquake in Christchurch


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This is a bit grim to wake up to. Horrible news.


Christchurch earthquake: 65 people dead in 'New Zealand's darkest day'

A major earthquake in the New Zealand city of Christchurch has left at least 65 people dead, hundreds more injured and toppled buildings in what the prime minister has described as "New Zealand's darkest day".



A state of emergency has been declared following the 6.3 magnitude quake, which struck in the middle of the day when office blocks and shopping centres in the city centre were bustling with people.

Rescue workers on Tuesday scrambled to free scores of people trapped in buildings, some crews arriving by helicopter because streets were blocked by rubble and jammed traffic.


Officials fear the death toll could double amid reports that more than 200 were trapped in collapsed buildings and wreckage of homes. Bodies were seen lying in the streets, untended until emergency services were able to reach them.

Bystanders dug with bare hands to rescue survivors trapped under piles of rubble. Some reports said the city had ran out of ambulances, with rescuers forced to use private vehicles.


John Key, the prime minister who has flown to the city, described what he saw as "utter devastation".

"We may be witnessing New Zealand's darkest day," he told reporters.

"The death toll I have at the moment is 65 and that may rise.

"So it's an absolute tragedy for this city, for New Zealand, for the people that we care so much about."

No area throughout the country's second largest city was considered safe as strong aftershocks sent dislodged masonry raining down on to the streets below.


Police warned there would be "multiple fatalities" throughout the region and the fire service said numerous people were trapped and that two buses had been crushed. There were reports of bodied being pulled from a youth hostel and bookshop in the city.


The Australian government quickly scrambled rescue and medical teams to area, the Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced.

The power of the quake, which was far more violent one that struck the city in September, caused the cathedral's spire in the centre of Christchurch to crumble and knocked out phone lines.

Several large building were reduced to piles of twisted debris, pipes burst across the city and large holes had appeared in roads.


The city's hospital and airport were evacuated and dozens of shocked and injured residents gathered in open spaces as alarms and sirens sounded across the city.

There were scenes of confusion and chaos as police tried to get people out of the city centre as the earth continued to shake during several strong aftershocks.


Streets were gridlocked, glass carpeted the pavements and power was out to 80 per cent of Christchurch.

Footage from the scene showed cars crushed underneath large piles of rubble and several seriously injured people being carried on makeshift stretchers from collapsed buildings.


Distressed people could be seen trapped inside damaged buildings and screaming could be heard as firefighters picked their way though the debris. The city had run out of ambulances and police cars and four wheel drives were being used to ferry the casualties to hospital.


The chaotic scenes in New Zealand's second largest city were far different from last September's "miracle", when no one was killed in a 7.1 magnitude quake.


Tuesday's much shallower quake, just two miles below the surface, caused several office blocks to collapse as well as destroying the 110-year-old Anglican cathedral. It has been described as the worst earthquake to hit the country in 80 years.


Bob Parker, the city's mayor, told TVNZ that the death toll could double.


"There are people fighting for their lives at the moment but there are also people fighting for them," he said.

"We're in the middle of an extremely serious situation.

"We're preparing ourselves for what I think will be a really sad, bleak day for our city but be reassured everybody is doing what they can."

He added: "Everybody needs to understand that this is going to be a day of very black news.

"This is about as bad as it gets. I think we need to prepare ourselves for a death toll that will be significant.


Gary Moore said he and 19 other colleagues were trapped in their twelfth floor office after the stairwell collapsed in the quake. He did not know if people on other floors were trapped.


"We watched the cathedral collapse out our window while we were holding onto the walls," Mr Moore said. "Every aftershock sends us rushing under the desks. It's very unnerving but we can clearly see there are other priorities out the window. There has been a lot of damage and I guess people are attending to that before they come and get us."

The Pyne Gould Guinness Building, a multi-storey building containing more than 200 workers, has collapsed and an unknown number of people are trapped inside.


Television pictures showed rescuers, many of them office workers, dragging severely injured people from the rubble. Many had blood streaming down their faces.


Bob Bufton, who was in a having lunch in a Thai restaurant when the quake struck, said it was "horrendous".

"The young ladies in the restaurant were screaming, it was tremendous, the last quake was nothing compared to this.

"I looked down the street and there was just dust."


Peter Beck, Dean of the Anglican Cathedral, said he had no idea of how many people were inside when the building fell.

Christchurch resident Jaydn Katene told the New Zealand Herald:"We've had friends in town call us and say there are just bodies lying around.


"Lots of dead bodies outside shops just lying there, just covered in bricks.

"When it hit we were knocked to our feet. Everything in the house fell down, nothing was left still standing.

"The roads are completely torn up, sewage coming up and flooding.

"The elderly are all crying," said Mr Katene.

"We've seen cars halfway sunken into the road.

"We've heard there's a bus which is sunken halfway into the road, just around the corner.

"Buildings are half-collapsed everywhere.

"It smells horrible. The roads are packed with cars.

"There aren't enough police or ambulances. Houses are all collapsing.

"It's pretty shocking, a total war zone."

The quake was felt as far away as Wellington, on the North Island.

New Zealand sits on the Pacific "ring of fire"

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A mate of mine moved from the UK to Christchurch last Oct, thankfully him, his wife and son are all ok. They experienced an aftershock from the September earthquakes not long after moving there and he described that as scary so I can only imagine the nightmare they are all going through over there at the moment.

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I checked out with my friend in Christchurch - she moved out there a year ago. Her flat is a total mess and there's worries about the structure of the building, so she's not allowed home yet.


I've got a cousin and her kids in NZ too, but they're a distance from the city, so they're all OK.

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A British holidaymaker in Christchurch was interviewed on Five Live this morning. The gist was...


Historic building destroyed... oh and some people have died. We are wearing our day clothes, we can't get to our hotel to change and it has started raining (although we do have a tent to stay in and blankets are on their way). It looks like their flight home may be delayed as well.


Nice set of priorities there.

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A British holidaymaker in Christchurch was interviewed on Five Live this morning. The gist was...


Historic building destroyed... oh and some people have died. We are wearing our day clothes, we can't get to our hotel to change and it has started raining (although we do have a tent to stay in and blankets are on their way). It looks like their flight home may be delayed as well.


Nice set of priorities there.


You wonder sometimes if these people actually think before speaking. If it were me (and of course I hope I don't have to face such a thing) I'm fairly sure my first concern would be profound gratitude that I'm still alive. Granted, there would be logistical things to think of, but you'd need to be a special kind of crass to mention this on TV or radio.


When the bombs went off in London in 2005, I worked very close by in Malet Place. As they cordoned off the area near the bus, I saw a news crew interview a guy who had been cycling near to the bus when it went off - BLOOD (or other matter) on his shoulder that rained down on him and the adjacent BMA building directly thereafter - and what do you think he said? Well, it was a while ago so I couldn't quote you directly, but the gist was "yeah it was a big explosion, I nearly came off my bike but thankfully I'm OK, and I'll have to change my shirt now because I've got an important meeting in a while". I searched high and low, but I would presume the powers that be deemed it too insensitive for broadcast. For the record, there were BBC and ITN vans behind him so I'd have thought it was one of them, on the slim off chance somebody ever saw the interview.


Also, this: http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1505441/o...ease-hoax.jhtml The final sentence is very telling.

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I am so glad my next door neighbours are ok as they returned from there last week. I will have to hear of how their sons are getting on that now live there.

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