Many people have written out of concern following the terrible earthquake yesterday around mid-day. We are very fortunate to be very far away from it all. We are on a different island and about 775 kms away which is about from Pretoria to East London. We did not feel any shaking at all. Most of the information has already been given in the newspapers and on TV, but the first major quake was in September last year. It measured 7.1 and was centred at 15 kms below the surface and since then there have been many smaller after-shocks. These have hampered reconstruction. The latest one was only 6.3 on the Richter scale but was centred 5 kms below the surface, it occurred at lunch time (whereas the other was at 4 am) and the epicentre was below the city centre (the other was out of town).
The death toll now stands at 75 with about 300 people still unaccounted for. The main cathedral lost its steeple (and reports said there were structural engineers in it at the time, considering whether it needed to be secured following all the smaller after-shocks).
There were a few buildings in the centre of the town that collapsed completely (shown above) and these are where there are reports of some people still being trapped. The USA, Japan and Oz have sent additional search and rescue people.
What is gratifying about the whole tragedy (if this is possible) is the response from the people. The prime minister flew immediately from Wellington and was in Christchurch in the rubble within 4 hours of the quake. He was talking to survivors and keeping the press informed of developments.
One radio station mentioned that there was a need for blood. Within an hour the NZ Blood Service had posted notices on their website and on Facebook appealing to people NOT to donate blood – they were being overwhelmed by volunteers and in fact they had enough to cope with the situation. I too sent info and they responded this morning thanking me for my concern and stating that they would be in contact shortly.
I am not sure whether this is the “big one” maybe it is still to come. We are definitely in a zone which is vulnerable to earthquakes, volcanic explosions and cyclones. People know this and compensate for it – they all have emergency kits stuck away in their homes.
So thanks for your concern, but we are all OK.