Christchurch was rocked by a 6.3 magnitude earthquake on Tuesday, February 22, 2011 at approximately 12:51pm local time, the height of the workday. This was followed in the next two hours by a pair of large aftershocks, one magnitude 5.6 and the other 5.5. Witnesses have described the scene as utter devastation. The 106-year-old Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament was badly damaged by the tremors and it is reported that half the building has collapsed and the church spire has toppled. At least eight or nine other buildings collapsed trapping people inside.
The New Zealand Herald is reporting that Prime Minister John Key has told reporters that the death toll from the quake stands at 65, and Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said it could quite possibly double. There are possibly 100 people still trapped in damaged buildings. There were 180 police on the ground, a further 200 were on the way and 350 military were already in Christchurch with another 250 to arrive soon. The Government had accepted offers of specialist help from Australia and US. Click here to see the Herald’s pictures.
The airport was closed and the evacuation of the city centre including the hospital was being carried out by police. The mayor Bob Parker declared a state of emergency and News.Com.au reported that a curfew was imposed in the city from 7pm to 7am as authorities battle to restore water, power and phone services in the devastated city.
CTV quoted Prime Minister John Key as saying, "It is just a scene of utter devastation. We may well be witnessing New Zealand’s darkest day." Deputy Prime Minister Bill English added, "The government is willing to throw everything it can in the rescue effort. Time is going to be of essence."
ITN News – Feb 22/2011
120 people rescued after NZ quake
Officials in Christchurch, New Zealand update the media on the progress of rescue efforts following this morning’s earthquake.
This past September 4, the city had suffered a 7.0 magnitude quake, the most damaging to hit the region since 1931. This had already weakened the frontages of some buildings and as a consequence, several collapsed onto the streets and witnesses have said people are trapped inside. Rubble buried cars while roads buckled and ruptures opened in the ground. The quake knocked out power in the city and broken water pipes flooding some streets.
Christchurch is New Zealand’s second largest city with a population of approximately 370,000. It is located near the centre of the east coast of the South island.
6.3 quake rocks New Zealand city; fatalities reported – Feb 22/2011
As of this writing, Tuesday, February 22, 2011 at 10:30am EST, it is Wednesday, 4:30am NZDT local time in Christchurch. TVNZ is saying that 80% of the properties in Christchurch are without water. The news service is presenting various videos of the quake.
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