Sunday, September 5, 2010

Newsy: New Zealand Hit by 7.1 Magnitude Earthquake

Christchurch, New Zealand's second-largest city, suffered a 7.1-magnitude earthquake early Saturday morning, local time. Two people were seriously injured, but no one was killed.
“(bell ringing) It struck early and it struck with force. (woman) The whole building felt as if it was going to fall over sideways. And it was shaking back and forth. (man’s voice) This is it. The big earthquake. 4:35 in the morning. And most of Canterbury was shaken awake. The first big quake measuring 7.1 threw the city into darkness.” (One News)
Christchurch New Zealand -- near the epicenter of a 7.1 magnitude earthquake. Nearly every building in the island nation’s second-largest city, rocked from its foundation or cracked at it’s seams. Now, some wonder if it wasn’t one -- but as many as three earthquakes in quick succession.
We’re analyzing coverage from New Zealand’s One News, ABC News Australia, Al Jazeera, and MSNBC.
Australia’s ABC News gives a closer assessment of the damage on the streets of Christchurch: “The shock deepened with daylight. Signs of damage everywhere. Buildings destroyed. Roads prized open. Powerlines failed. And railroads buckled. But there was a sense of relief and amazement that somehow the city had escaped massive loss of life. Only two people were seriously injured.”
The Mayor of Christchurch says this quake will likely affect every single member of his city -- most of them directly, due to damage, the rest indirectly, through impaired services: “The biggest issue for us really, is that its shattered a large amount of the city’s infrastructure that we rely on. So the water and the waste that runs through the pipes that run through the city. We’re checking the bridges, we’re checking the roads.” (Al Jazeera)
A curfew is in place in the central city. A reporter for TVNZ’s One News says, there is still so much instability in the aftermath: “Unexpected emergency’s are cropping up in the city’s center, like this fire that you’re looking at a short time ago while the Prime Minister was checking out the damage. John Keyes says, the recovery costs could run into the billions of dollars.”
The New Zealand quake is very similar to the one which struck Haiti in January. Both around 7.1 on the Richter scale. The U.S. Geological Survey’s Paul Caruso says, the difference is that New Zealand has the infrastructure to withstand it: "The main difference is that New Zealand has a lot of experience with earthquakes, and they have good construction codes to make sure that their buildings withstand a strong earthquake." (MSNBC)
New Zealand records more than 14-thousand quakes a year, but only a handful of those cause any damage.
Writer: Jim Flink

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