Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Christchurch Catastrophe...incredible video while it happens!

Source: The Telegraph (UK)
More from The Telegraph

Christchurch earthquake: shattered Christchurch counts quake dead

Six months ago Christchurch residents thought that they had dodged a calamity but the catastrophe was postponed not avoided.

After the city escaped with damage, but no deaths, from a 71. magnitude earthquake that struck in September, locals acknowleded their good fortune.
But at 12.51pm yesterday on Tuesday the cathedral city's luck resolutely ran out.
Officeworkers had settled down for lunch at their desks, shoppers thronged the city's malls and squares and children played in schoolyards across the city when the ground began to shake.
It did not stop shuddering violently for almost one full minute, all the time it took to turn the picturesque city into a disaster zone.
Buildings that had withstood hundreds of lesser earthquakes crumbled into piles of dust as the 6.3 magnitude earthquake hit. The cathedral's famous spire cracked and fell, liquefaction - earth literally turned to liquid - seeped up through the streets. Christchurch - New Zealand's vibrant second largest city - resembled a Hollywood apocalypse film for real.
The worst of the destruction was in the city centre, where more than 100 people were trapped as offices, hotels and shops collapsed around them. Some managed to make it out by crawling, jumping and scaling the outside of cracked and fractured buildings. As masonry rained down and the aftershocks continued, there were reports of people trapped in the PGG Building, the Cantebury TV building and under fallen chunks of the cathedral.
With screams coming from the remains of buildings, it was obvious that this time the city would not escape without fatalities. Soon the death toll had climbed to 65, but there were rumours around the city that it could reach as high as 300 as rescuers started to pick through the rubble. Several of the dead were killed in buses and cars that were crushed like cans by falling debris. A backpacker died in the city's YHA. Another person was reported to have perished in a bookshop. There were also reports of dead bodies lying in Cashel Mall in the centre of the city, covered by t-shirts until rescuers could come and take them away. The authorities confirmed that the dead included children.
John Key, the prime minister, said it was the nation's "darkest day".
Bob Parker, the major, declared a state of emergency, saying the city had "paid a very heavy price here."
For the tearful and shellshocked survivors, the hours following the earthquake were bewildering.
The injured, some carried on makeshift stretchers from buildings by their workmates and friends, most bleeding, gathered in the city's parks where impromptu medical centres were set up. There were so many wounded that the city's ambulances could not cope and police and civilian cars were employed to help ferry those in need to packed hospitals. Others, fearful of returning home, set up tents in parks and open spaces to sit out the rainy and cold night.
Elsewhere, chaos took hold. One man was arrested for trying to enter a building to rescue a friend. Husbands frantically looked for their wives, parents desperately tried to track down their children, their efforts stymied by road closures, gridlocked traffic and a communications system rendered almost useless by the quake.
Some 80 per cent of the city was without power and water was running out.
As the dust started to clear and rescue workers started to move in, gingerly picking over debris and listening for calls for help, aftershocks continued to rumble through the city, sending large shards of glass and bricks onto the streets below.
Then the fires started. Several damaged buildings ignited, making rescue attempts even more hazardous. But the rescues continued.
During the night, emergency crews corndonned off the city so that they could listen properly for tapping and calls for help.
Through the night some 30 people were rescued alive from beneath fallen buildings, and several dead bodies were also recovered. Of those that survived, some had to undergo amputations to be freed from the wreckage, while rescue workers said that others were retrieved without suffering a scratch.
Anne Voss, who was trapped under her office desk, said she had called her children to say goodbye because she thought she was going to die, "It was absolutely horrible," she told New Zealand TV.
"My daughter was crying and I was crying because I honestly thought that was it.
"You want to tell them you love them, don't you?"
Sven Baker was another one of the lucky ones. He survived by diving under his desk in his four-storey office block when the earthquake hit. The decision saved his life.
"I went under the table just as the whole facade of the building collapsed on the street.
"It was a massive earthquake, unbelieveable, it took you off your feet," he told the Dominion Post.
"It was a miracle to have walked out."
By this morning disaster recovery crews were flying into Christchurch from Australia to help with the recovery effort.
The damage to Christchurch, which is the gateway to the South Island and is home to 390,000 people, was more extensive than in September because the quake was far shallower and more sudden than the last one.

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