Big quake hits Christchurch

Written By: - Date published: 1:16 pm, February 22nd, 2011 - 102 comments
Categories: disaster - Tags:

Christchurch has been hit by another serious earthquake. Reports are pretty thin on the ground but it seems to have been 6.3. I’ve been told by family down south that it felt bigger than the September quake.

Here’s hoping that everyone is okay.

update: not everyone was okay, at least 65 dead. This is one of those horrible and defining moments in New Zealand history. Our hearts go out to Christchurch and its citizens.

Click for larger image.

lprent: Update page from the NZ HeraldRadio NZ page. Google Search live. Photos at NZ Herald. TV3 video in square. TV3 story. TVNZ Live stream. Christchurch Star.

lprent 1608

It looks like the major civil defense structure in in place. If anyone notes anything important on the civil defense side then comment it at the end of the comments. I’m going to get back to doing some actual work.

But in a word of warning. This post has been politics free with no comment on any political figure apart from Bob Parker declaring a state of emergency. I’d be quite irritated (and not averse to expressing it) if I find political bickering in the comments on this post. Until a political post is written on the subject, confine your political commentary to OpenMike.

RNZ ~4:00pm

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker declared a local state of emergency for at least the next five days.

He says the damage in the city is “immense” and the city will need help from other areas of New Zealand.

Mr Parker says the central city around the four avenues is being cordoned off for the foreseeable future and the central city area was being evacuated, though he asked people not to travel unnecessarily.

An emergency operations centre has been set up in the Christchurch Art Gallery.

Mr Parker urged people to do their best to stay calm, and said people should conserve water, and should boil water before using it.

NZH 3.40pm

Civil Defence and Emergency Management has made contact with the Environment Canterbury Civil Defence, but has yet to make communication with Christchurch City Council Civil Defence.

Christchurch Hospital is now operational, with only one ward was damaged.
Christchurch Airport is still closed pending an inspection of the runway.

TVNZ 3.38pm:

Contact Energy says is has had reports of gas leaks and is preparing to shut off the gas supply as a precaution. It also warns consumers to turn off all gas appliances and their gas mains if they can locate them.

TV3 3.25pm

Police are arresting people who are getting in the way of emergency services trying to help those trapped and injured.

TV3 3.24pm

The emergency 111 system is not working; people should call 03 211 3044.

TV3 3.13pm

Six aftershocks have hit Christchurch this afternoon. A 3.4 hit at 2.37pm, a 4.0 hit at 2.39 and a larger 5.5 hit at 2.50pm within 5km of Lyttelton.

TV3 3.11pm

Eighty percent of Christchurch is without power.

NZH 3.09pm

Christchurch-based Herald reporter Jarrod Booker said the southern suburbs appeared to be particularly badly hit.

Liquefaction is forcing tarmac up in the middle of the road and water and sand are spewing out of chasms

NZH 3.04pm

The 111 phone system in Southland is out of action following today’s earthquake in Christchurch.

Anyone needing urgent assistance from the police must phone their local police station direct – this number is in the BLUE pages at the front of the Southland phone book.

Anyone needing an ambulance in Southland must phone 03 211 3044.

Anyone needing assistance from the Fire Service must phone the police, who may be able to redirect your call.

NZH 2.58pm

Civil Defence has alerted all Urban Search and Rescue teams in the city, and an Australian team is on call.

Temporary accommodation is being organised for those who have been displaced, with tents possibly to be erected in Hagley Park.

The hospital has been evacuated and several rest homes are also being considered for evacuation.

TV3 2.55pm

There are reports 60 percent of Lyttelton has been virtually demolished.

TVNZ 2.54pm:

All AM radio frequencies are out in Christchurch. Newstalk ZB is broadcasting on 91.3FM, 97.7FM and 106.5FM Christchurch.

TVNZ 2.53pm:

New pictures show a great deal of liquefaction in the central city.

CS 2.47pm

MFAT says people in Australia with fears for relatives can call: 1300 555 135.

NZH 2.42pm

Geonet reports a second magnitude 4.4 aftershock at 1.46pm, centred 10km east of Lyttelton at a depth of 5km.

NZH 2.34pm

Herald reporter Jarrod Booker says there is still massive gridlock in the streets. Emergency services are struggling to get through the queues of traffic and are having to slowly manoeuvre their way through the traffic.

Some people are standing on the footpath just staring into space in shock.

NZH 2.32pm

“Multiple fatalities have been reported at several locations in the central city, including two buses crushed by falling buildings. A doctor and emergency services are attending,” police said. There have been reports of fires in buildings and people trapped inside buildings.

RNZ ~2:20

The quake on Tuesday was centred 10km south-east of the South Island city and struck at 12.51pm. It was felt as far south as Dunedin.

The Fire Service has confirmed that some people have been killed.

National Civil Defence Controller David Coetzee says the damage is worse than the 7.1-magnitude quake on 4 September last year and “significant” aftershocks should be expected.

TVNZ 2.13pm:

Defence forces have been called in to assist, police said.

NZH 2.13pm

Police report Christchurch Hospital has not been evacuated and is in operation. Triage centres for the injured have been set up at Latimer Square (Central City) Spotlight Mall (Sydenham) and Sanitarium (Papanui).

NZH 2.07pm

The police have confirmed multiple fatalities from today’s quake.

NZH 1.50pm: (partial)

Civil Defence advice:

Listen to the radio for updated emergency information and instructions.

Do not overload phone lines with non-emergency calls.

NZH 1.48pm

National Business Review reporter Chris Hutching told the NBR website: “The roads are running with water. It’s like rivers everywhere. The shakes are happening every minute. There are constant aftershocks.”

TVNZ 1:43pm:

McRae says he believe there must have been people killed and major injuries. TVNZ building has been severely damaged.

NZH 1.20pm:

Civil Defence spokesman Vince Cholewa said the National Crisis Centre has been triggered and was preparing what Government response there would be.

“The quake is significantly smaller than the previous Christchurch earthquake, however it was very shallow and might have been very close to the centre of the city,” he said.

Mr Cholewa was not aware of any casualties or the extent of the damage.

“We are still getting a picture of what has happened and we are aware of the details.”

NZH 1.10pm

The quake was magnitude 6.3 at a depth of 5km, centred 10km southeast of Christchurch.

TVNZ 1.10pm:

According to Christchurch police, the Cathedral has taken a big hit. There are no further details yet.

102 comments on “Big quake hits Christchurch”

  1. Bunji 1

    5km depth, 10km SE of Christchurch. Initial reports say the cathedral is down, along with many buildings around the square.

  2. Blighty 2

    so shallow and so close to the city. The other one was 4 times the distance and twice the depth. the proximity could easily make this worse than the larger september quake. especially with all the damage buildings have taken.

    and this one during the day, not at night when everyone was relatively safe in bed.

  3. Eclipse 3

    Tvnz seems to be getting overwhelmed, any other suggestions for live updates other than Stuff, RNZ and The Herald?

  4. Anthony C 4

    Reports of houses and buildings down.

    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      Damn I hope we can get emergency teams and other help to the city fast.

    • neoleftie 4.2

      my wife on 7th floor building at a hui texted in, power out, damage everywhere, people in the streets, windows coming down, water main burst again…

  5. Bunji 5

    This annoys me:

    1.24pm
    The BusinessDesk news agency reported that the kiwi dollar dropped almost half a US cent from US76.32 cents immediately before the quake to US75.79 cents immediately afterwards.

    I don’t want to know about the dollar herald, I want to know if people are okay!

    • Banter 5.1

      with you on that, why tell us this –

      4.24 pm: The New Zealand dollar has dropped by more than a cent against the US dollar this afternoon, as traders bet that the Reserve Bank may cut interest rates to prop up the economy in the aftermath of the quake.

      it just blows my mind that there are people out there whose first thought is how they can make a buck out of it.

      All thoughts with my canterbury buddies right now..

  6. just saying 6

    TV 3 streaming unedited footage.

    All the best to everyone affected.

    • William Joyce 6.1

      Congrats to tv3 – streaming unedited on tv3 and SKY News Australia while tvnz showed emerdale and commercials.
      A lot of tvnz vision reduced in size so we all can stare at a graphic of a telephone.

    • William Joyce 6.2

      Also live fed from tv3 to ABC Aust

  7. kriswgtn 7

    I have sister in chch- have tried texting her-no reply- she works in central city
    am stressed out to fukin max

    • pete 7.1

      The mobile networks will be overloaded at the moment; I’m not getting any text messages from Christchurch either.

      • billy fish 7.1.1

        Phone networks are overloading wih voice calls. Texting better option tho I know the not knowing and not hearing is hellish.

  8. Apparently the hospital is really badly damaged. And the cathedral is destroyed.

    This is so scary. I hope the people are ok – this must be terrifying, especially so soon after the September quakes.

    It must be awful for parents with kids at school – who don’t usually have cellphones with them – not sure if it’s a futile exercise but I just said a prayer for them all

    • Colonial Viper 8.1

      Stress and anxiety reactions from people affected by this quake are going to be worse. But that’s a problem for the day after tomorrow.

  9. just spoke to mate – he okay but many not – radio reporting confirmed deaths and dozens trapped. Arohanui to all.

  10. Colonial Viper 11

    My phone has started to fail sending txts. Just like New Years Eve. Vodafone.

  11. Lanthanide 12

    I’m fine.

    I was in the car at the lights when the big one hit, and again in the car when the smaller aftershock about 15 minutes later hit. I didn’t witness any real damage myself, although a community center across one of the streets had a big hole with bricks falling down.

    The quake was under Lyttleton. They’re probably going to be crushed by this, but haven’t seen anything about it on TV yet.

    This is the bullet that we dodged in September.

    • lprent 12.1

      Good to see that you’re OK.

      I haven’t noticed any particular silences from our Christchurch commentators yet apart from vto. Has anyone seen him?

    • just saying 12.2

      Glad you’re ok.
      I know there are quite a few regulars here from Chch. Will be glad to hear news of them too.
      God this is awful. My heart goes out to Cantabrains and their loved ones.

  12. this is really bad and serious – buses crushed under falling debris, the Christchurch civil defence leaders are in Wellington

  13. IrishBill 14

    RNZ is reporting two buses crushed by buildings.

  14. Colonial Viper 15

    Looking at the above post I think that they need to keep Civil Defence’s Vince Cholewa away from any nearby microphones.

    • billy fish 15.1

      Sorry – can you explain that one CV ? Just a bit confused as to the Vince reference

      • Colonial Viper 15.1.1

        Referencing this –

        “The quake is significantly smaller than the previous Christchurch earthquake”

        …but only from a very narrow technical viewpoint. He does go on to say that its more shallow etc, but it was the wrong message to send.

        • billy fish 15.1.1.1

          Got it – I know Vince – he’s a good sort – maybe given bad/incomplete info? Often an issue in the immediate flow from a crisis situation

        • RedLogix 15.1.1.2

          You are exactly correct CV. This quake is almost identical to the 1987 Edgecumbe quake that I was in the middle of. Magnitude 6.3 and about the same depth.

          Very violent and hell of a frightening. I still have a small legacy of post-traumatic stress from it all these years past…and news of this event is bringing it back right now as I type.

          I’m thinking this is far worse than the September event.

          • ianmac 15.1.1.2.1

            Sep 7.3 is a very much bigger than 6.3. Exponential and all that. The damage however this time has to do with location/depth. Perhaps Vince should have concentrated on degree of damage?

  15. gingercrush 16

    Its very scary and the aftershocks are very shaky. The unit here is fine but the garage next door has had the old concrete blocks knocked out. I haven’t dared venture anywhere just way too dangerous. My brother was in Gloucester and he said it was just clouds and dust.

    I wasn’t here for the boxing day aftershock as down south with family but it felt way different to Sep 4. Sep 4 was rolling this one was just crash, crash, crash.

    • lprent 16.1

      Good to see that you’re ok. The boxing day quake was pretty mild (I was there). This sounds like there were more P waves.

      • Lanthanide 16.1.1

        I was in my car (stopped at traffic lights) so I can’t really say what it felt like, other than very strong wind.

        Dad said it felt more like it was going up and down rather than side to side.

  16. Treetop 17

    The Canterbury region needs to be a top priority for the government and handled differently to the last earthquake in some aspects as some people were left in turmoil. There is SO much need down there, physically/psychologically, economically, socially and environmentally.

    Just getting through today and the next few days in particular is going to be horrible for those who are caught up in the devastation.

    My heart felt thoughts are with those who yet again are faced with many day to day differculties resulting because of another major earthquake.

  17. gingercrush 18

    another huge aftershock

    • Colonial Viper 18.1

      it just came up on geonet. Magnitude 5.5 @ 5km deep. That’s considered a bad one on its own. Damn its going to be a long night for Christchurch folk.

  18. kriswgtn 19

    Heard from sister- CHCH has been flattened
    Her and her kids and hubby all good
    Thank the maker or whatever
    told her time to leave

  19. kriswgtn 20

    my dad in Rakaia

    told her to go there and forget her stuff in house

  20. Janice 21

    Did I hear that the Minister of Earthquake Recovery was in Saudi Arabia? Why isn’t he here doing the job he is paid for, no wonder people are waiting so long for information about their the holdup to get their initial damage repaired. I havn’t been able to get through to my friends hope all is OK.

  21. kriswgtn 22

    as someone mentioned vodafone- i have also telecom and it got thru=vodafone isnt working

    I feel for all cantabrians @ this time

  22. ianmac 23

    As the Ch Ch Airport is closed I wonder how Key will get to CH Ch ?
    Perhaps since Goff is already at the Airport he could delegate Goff to Represent The Government?

    • Bunji 23.1

      TV3 reports:

      3.23pm – Christchurch Airport has two runways operational but only for medical evacuations and medical assistance and for the Prime Minister.

    • Carol 23.2

      Just hearing a live report from Goff on RNZ. It all sounds as bad as every other report.

  23. lprent 24

    Before anyone starts getting into political issues. Read my comment about them in the post.

    • ianmac 24.1

      I regret the slant I may have put at 4:08. Sorry.

      • Tigger 24.1.1

        To be honest surely the worst thing anyone ‘unnecessary’ can do is rush into Chch. And by ‘unnecessary’ I mean anyone whose job doesn’t involve actually saving lives or digging out rubble, protecting buildings etc.

        • lprent 24.1.1.1

          At times like these with casualties on the ground, the CD, NZDF, and other emergency staff will tend to get a bit abrupt. I suspect that politicians will be given some pretty clear guidelines.

          The police have started arresting people who are getting in the way of the emergency efforts.

          But if you want to discuss this then do it in OpenMike.

  24. swordfish 25

    Bloody awful.

    A few things I’ve heard over the last 2 hours from RNZ:

    – one RNZ journalist looked across Chch during earthquake from highspot and says he just saw a huge dustbowl as buildings fell.

    – RNZ’s Mary Wilson is Excellent. Greatly clarified things with some very important questions.

    – Some official in Chch (not sure who) has suggested that the central city may now have been geologically undermined. This is an awful human catastrophe.

    – Major communication problems between Beehive (Emergency Cabinet meeting) and Chch Emergency Services. Half an hour after RNZ reported multiple casualties, Beehive journalists were still being briefed that there was no information on any fatalities. Cabinet apparently relying on TVNZ/TV3 coverage. RNZ journalist Jane Patterson said journalists were quite shocked by this. (Note: The above passage isn’t intended as some sort of political comment. I absolutely agree that now is not the time).

    – Bloke on RNZ just said Lyttelton looks like it’s been bombed.

    • Colonial Viper 25.1

      Damn it. In the post mortem of this event we will have to look at putting in better, highly hardened communications systems between every major city. Our leaders must be able to talk to the front lines and must be able to get first hand reports from the ground. Even a back up network of sat phones would be a start.

  25. I have spent the afternoon trying to reach more than a dozen staff in christchurch. Thankfully everybody is accounted for and airport willing will be on the ground in the morning.
    I was down there a week ago and the ongoing stress on everybody is incredible. This will tip a few of them over for good.
    The first hand stories are horrible. One of my guys was in a car behind the colombo street bus. He is sleeping in Hagley park tonight.

    • lprent 26.1

      Yeah. The worst possible scenario. It sounds like these quakes were close enough to cause stronger P waves or vertical S waves causing significantly more damage. It was also during the day when people were out of their relatively safe wooden framed structures.

      I’m expecting the disaster shock from this episode to be more extreme than we saw in September.

      • Colonial Viper 26.1.1

        Yep the stressors are cumulative. For those who have had ongoing stress from not having their housing situation, insurance payouts, (un)employment etc resolved from the first quake this is just more.

        A reminder why we need to build resilient communities and resilient families during the better times.

    • Draco T Bastard 26.2

      I was down there a week ago and the ongoing stress on everybody is incredible. This will tip a few of them over for good.

      I’m expecting a few people to up and leave. The place hasn’t stood still since the Sept. quake and this now will just make their minds up. With winter coming on and very little chance that all buildings will be fixed we’ll probably see even more leaving as the stress builds.

      This won’t kill Chch but I’m expecting it to take a major population hit.

      • M 26.2.1

        Draco, been thinking the same thing this evening. With more severe damage this time I don’t know that the city or surrounds and their people can ever really recover and maybe rebuilding will have to take place at points north, south or west.

        • Colonial Viper 26.2.1.1

          Depopulation is one possibility. A lot of that hinges on the prospects for economic recovery of the city.

          I remember how people who could, fled Christchurch for weeks after the earthquake in September, to stay with friends and relatives hundreds of kms away.

  26. Todd 27

    If you can’t locate somebody, enter their details here: http://christchurch-2011.person-finder.appspot.com/

  27. Todd 28

    This simulation will give you an idea of the magnitude of these quakes: http://www.christchurchquakemap.co.nz/

  28. Pascal's bookie 29

    Glad to hear from them that are fine, still waitin on a few.

    I’m not one for the prayin’ but yall are in my thoughts, obvs. Stay safe. Look out for the neighbours. Do as you’re told by them what know.

    All the missing are equal, and loved.

    Apparently Dick Armitage is missing:

    http://twitter.com/DavidHuebner/status/39896492714115072#

    and there may have been tourists in the cathedral tower.

  29. Vicky32 30

    My son who is a nurse at Welly Hospital phoned a while back and said that heaps of his colleagues who have rellies in Christchurch are climbing walls with anxiety!
    Also, they are preparing to receive patients from Christchurch hospital which is being evacuated.
    Deb

    • Pascal's bookie 30.1

      There has been a higher than usual level of helicopter activity overhead. (in wellies)

  30. lprent 31

    TV3 5.10pm

    Telecom says 111 services are now stable and available for use. The Christchurch 111 calls centre has been successfully diverted to Wellington and 111 calls are being prioritised.

  31. lprent 32

    NZH 5.21pm

    Telecom says its telephone boxes in Christchurch are going to have free calling enabled so people in the city can call for free.

  32. lprent 33

    TVNZ 4.44pm:
    The government helpline is 0800 779 997.

  33. Pascal's bookie 34

    If UR are on vfone prepay, need credit, and can read this, then get in touch with this guy for a free top up:

  34. weka 35

    why are people sleeping in Hagley Park tonight? There must be buildings they could walk to and shelter in.

    • QoT 35.1

      Probably don’t want to. I wouldn’t.

    • Carol 35.2

      I understand the tents were in Hagley Park for the Ellerslie Flower Show. So they just decided to use them for people with nowhere else to go.

      • weka 35.2.1

        Ok, I didn’t realise there were tents there.

        Parker has just advised people to go to Addington Raceway or Burnside High School instead of Hagley Park.

        • Blondie 35.2.1.1

          Think a lot of people want to be as far away from any buildings as possible. Don’t blame them. A tent collapsing on top of you is rarely fatal. Can’t say the same for bricks and mortar.

          • weka 35.2.1.1.1

            Fair enough Blondie. It’s been awhile since I was at Hagley Park, I can’t remember what it’s like going away from the city. I’m not blaming the people there, I’m sure most are in huge amounts of shock and are unsure what to do, or really feel their best option is to stay put, or just feel safer outside. Just trying to understand.

  35. Todd 37

    What about somewhere people can offer billets on the internet for all these displaced people?

    • QoT 37.1

      I don’t have one for Christchurch but Wellington International Airport has put a call out for billets for Christchurch folk stuck at Wellington.

    • weka 37.2

      I would think most people needing a billet don’t have internet access. TV1 is still reporting that people are expecting to sleep in Hagley Park. The tents there are on top of liquefaction, so not sure how that will work. The toilets have been closed too (too full). Isn’t it meant to rain there tonight? Most of those people will be able to walk, so why aren’t they? I know it’s hard to understand a situation from watching it on TV, but still, I would expect many of those people to be able to get to some shelter.

      chaptcha – complexitys

      • QoT 37.2.1

        Plenty of people will have cellphones with net access. There is a lot of uncertainty, there’ll be a lot of fear, minor injuries, exhaustion, stress, and frankly I don’t know how “well I know nothing about this situation but I would totally do blah…” comments are meant to help.

        • weka 37.2.1.1

          “Plenty of people will have cellphones with net access.”

          I’m not sure how many will have such cell phones (most people I know don’t have web access via their phones but I don’t live in a city with good coverage). But some of those phones will be running out of power and accessing the web may not be the best usage of remaining battery.

          “There is a lot of uncertainty, there’ll be a lot of fear, minor injuries, exhaustion, stress, and frankly I don’t know how “well I know nothing about this situation but I would totally do blah…” comments are meant to help.”

          Maybe, but I do know alot about trauma and for many of those people who have been traumatised being safe and warm tonight will be important to their ability to recover.

          I’m holding back from being critical of what’s happening on the ground. I’m just very surprised to see kiwis having to spend a night outside when large parts of the city are intact.

          • QoT 37.2.1.1.1

            weka … some people may have fucking died because they went back into a building to check it after the first quake. This isn’t an intellectual fucking exercise.

            • weka 37.2.1.1.1.1

              QoT, I’m not being intellectual. I’m actually feeling alot, possibly as much as you. I’m aware of people dying, some people who are still dying because rescue won’t come in time. I spent most of the afternoon trying to figure out if close friends who work in the CBD were alive.

              I’m not sure wht is wrong with being concerned about other people too.

            • Colonial Viper 37.2.1.1.1.2

              I think a lot of people will be deliberately spending the night under the Milky Way. Nothing to fall on you except a shooting star or two.

  36. the sprout 38

    best wishes for all those in CHCH
    a terrible day

  37. Marty G 39

    A 6.3 earthquake releases about a tenth of the energy of a 7.1 but the focal point of this quake was 11km from the cbd, as opposed to 35km with the previous quake (that’s direct line, the hypotenuse of distance and depth). If you imagine the sphere of energy propagating from that focal point, the surface of the sphere would be tens times smaller and the energy ten times as dense at 11 km as at 35. So, the smaller magnitude was canceled out by the closeness. Not to mention the energy would be more concentrated into a big hit, rather than spread P and S waves, and not so much would have dissipated over the shorter journey.

    Add in the damage already sustained to buildings, the time of day, and maybe different geological formations between the epicentre and cbd and you can see why this is so much worse.

    • Colonial Viper 39.1

      Shit your math is good Marty.

      Add in the damage already sustained to buildings,

      Unfortunately I think some of the buildings which fell today will have been checked and certified ‘safe’ after Sept. There is an exercise required down the track to review if all that was done properly, as all new checks will be required now.

  38. Salsy 40

    Frightening, I was listening to Ken Ring on the national program last year and this earthquake make me think of his predictions, based on the moon position. He was right on:
    predict-weather
    He also predicts theres more to come – March 20.

  39. Colonial Viper 41

    Damage from the Sept quake was costed at just NZ$3B-$4B.

    Today has got to be three or four times as bad (conservatively). Including all the damage from Sept still left to be done, $15B-$20B will be required to rebuild.

    That doesn’t include helping the businesses, families and workers affected.

    • RedLogix 41.1

      I’m also picking that a lot of larger buildings that although standing at present will on closer engineering inspection prove to require a lot of structural remedial work, or perhaps demolition. This event will have stressed and damaged a lot of hidden connections and components designed to withstand the earthquake forces and repairing them is usually very expensive.

      And so far no news from the water supply and sewerage guys… they must be tearing what little remains of their hair out. Already the water supply was marginal due to unrepairable damage to various wells and aquifiers and this will not have helped one little bit.

  40. Drakula 42

    I have been trying to figure out how to get safe water to friends in Christchurch, that is going to be the big challenge tomorrow.

    Would it not help if the civil defence/triage centers had phone numbers? decentralise the process?

  41. Marty G 43

    [any mention of political ramifications is being moved to the day’s open mike post. It’s not that we’re going to stop them being discussed but we want this post and subsequent posts on the immediate impact of the quake to remain focused]

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